How Florida Department of Transportation dispatchers handle road safety

Published: January 24, 2023 1:59 PM EST
Updated: January 24, 2023 2:05 PM EST

 

The dispatchers for the Florida Department of Transportation are unsung heroes, watching out for us on the roads and ensuring traffic is moving the way it’s supposed to.

Dispatchers working for FDOT have their eyes are on the roads at all times using a series of cameras. Whether it’s a rollover, rain on the interstate or a stalled-out semitruck, you may wonder what happens when you dial *347 for help. Dispatchers don’t just look for trouble on Southwest Florida roads; they answer direct calls from drivers who need help.

“Crash, need gas or have a flat tire,” said Tom Arsenault with FDOT. “FDOT and [the Florida Highway Patrol] work together.”

Once FDOT dispatchers know the caller’s needs, they send a road ranger to help.

The department says congestion leads to chaos. Enter the “open roads policy.”

“Try to get open as fast as possible to keep drivers moving and first responders safe,” Arsenault said.

If a semitruck is on its side, blocking traffic, it creates a mess on I-75. The Rapid Incident Scene Clearance program calls for crews to clear the wreck in 90 minutes or less. FDOT contracts tow companies to get things moving as quickly as possible. By clearing out, they can cash out for up to a bonus of up to $3,500 in addition to the usual rate.

In 2022, there were 47 RISC calls, compared to 22 in 2021. In our area, road rangers were called out more than 42,000 times, making the driver assist nearly 85% of the time.

And as for dispatchers and road rangers, they are with you 24/7, 365 days, taking your calls.