Freeway Service Patrol

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If you are a motorist in need of aid, please call the California Highway Patrol dispatch center at 1 (805) 477-4174 to utilize Freeway Service Patrol service (if within active program hours). If you feel this is an emergency, please dial 911.

What We Do

The Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) program is a free service provided by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Caltrans.

FSP is composed of a fleet of tow and service trucks that patrol designated routes of Highway 101 on the south coast corridor.  The service is provided Monday through Friday during peak commute hours.

The FSP program provides congestion relief, safety and air quality benefits by:

  • Reducing traffic jams through prompt removal of stalled cars
  • Reducing the chance of further accidents and bottlenecks caused by impatient drivers and onlookers
  • Saving fuel and cutting air polluting emissions by reducing stop-and-go traffic
  • Keeping narrowed lanes clear during highway construction projects

The Santa Barbara FSP is a public service comprised of a fleet of tow and service trucks that patrol designated portions (beats) of Highway 101 between Bates Road and Los Positas Road. The service is currently provided Monday through Friday during peak commute hours: 6:30 a.m.  to 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

The services are provided under a contract by a local towing company and administered by SBCAG.  During hours of FSP operation there is one tow truck and one service vehicle on-duty to assist motorists as they are discovered or as dispatched by the CHP.

 Services provided by the FSP include:

  • Changing flat tires
  • Jump starting vehicles
  • Refilling radiators and taping leaky hoses
  • Putting a gallon of fuel in gas tanks
  • Towing inoperable vehicles, free of charge to a safe location off the freeway
  • Clearing vehicles damaged in collisions under CHP direction
  • Removing debris from traffic lanes under CHP direction

Where and when do the FSP tow trucks operate?

FSP vehicles are in the field during the weekday peak commute period on Highway 101 between Bates Road and Los Positas Road. The service is currently provided Monday through Friday during peak commute hours: 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Is there any cost to the motorist for the FSP service?

No. FSP services are free of charge.

How is the FSP funded?

Funding for FSP comes from two sources. The State of California provides funding for 75% percent of FSP program costs with the remaining 25% funded from a local match.  SBCAG’s local matching funds come from a $1.00 annual fee charged to motorists who register a vehicle in Santa Barbara County.  Fees are deposited in SBCAG’s Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE) account which are expended on motorist aid purposes per State law.

How can I recognize the Freeway Service Patrol?

All of the Freeway Service Patrol vehicles are white and have the FSP log on the doors. Drivers wear yellow safety vests with the same logo on them.

Can I pay or tip the driver?

No. Drivers are prohibited from accepting tips. However, you may write a letter of thanks with the driver’s name to:

Santa Barbara Freeway Service Patrol
260 N. San Antonio Road, Suite B
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

How does the Freeway Service Patrol help congestion?

The FSP program reduces freeway congestion by quickly clearing stalled vehicles and other obstructions. For each minute a stalled vehicle is in a lane, it takes four minutes for traffic to return to the original flow condition.

How does the FSP Program improve air quality?

By removing traffic obstructions quickly, the FSP program reduces the amount of time a vehicle idles in traffic producing exhaust. In turn, this reduces the amount of pollutants being put in the air.

Why can’t I get towed to a mechanic or garage?

FSP drivers are only authorized to assist in getting disabled vehicles operating again or towing disabled vehicles to designated drop areas off of the Highway 101 freeway. The FSP tow truck drivers are not authorized to tow vehicles to any other locations. Drivers of disabled vehicles must make their own arrangements to have their vehicle towed from the drop area to a repair garage or other location.

Why can’t I get towed home or to work?

The primary purpose of the FSP is to get motorists and vehicles out of harm’s way. Tow operators need to resume service on the freeway as quickly as possible in order to continue assisting other stranded motorists.

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