Few things are more frustrating — or even intimidating — than to be stranded by the side of a road in a car that won’t run.
For 15 years, the West Virginia Courtesy Patrol has been on duty, seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m., helping motorists who are out of gas, have a flat tire, need other assistance or are just plain lost.
It’s a welfare-to-work operation that hires people identified by their welfare caseworkers and has helped many find jobs. A number of them have received AmeriCorps education awards to attend college.
The patrol is active on more than 800 miles of the state’s roads, has logged more than 68 million miles and has helped more than 280,000 motorists.
It patrols eight interstate highways and five corridors and is paid for by $4.7 million a year from the state’s tourism promotion fund. The patrol no doubt pays for itself in the good will it has generated over the years.
Patrol director Jennifer Douglas says the program “is an example of public-private partnerships and bipartisanship at its best.”
Other states also have courtesy patrols. Maryland State Police frequently help motorists with disabled vehicles and the State Highway Administration has them during peak hours on certain interstates.