Fort Bend Precinct 3 assists motorists
Motorists stranded with minor roadside emergencies such as a flat tire or dead battery in Fort Bend County Precinct 3 may be rescued thanks to a new program started by Commissioner Andy Meyers with the Constable’s Office.
Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable Wayne Thompson said the first rescue in the new Motorist Assistance Program was Aug. 31.
“For the time being we are operating as frequently as possible with our reserve staffing four to five days a week during daytime hours when most folks are on the road,” said Thompson.
“We are currently operating via on-view stranded motorists and calls that are radio broadcast for stranded motorists or road hazards,” said Thompson. He explained the office has one vehicle to cover 250,000 residents and 272 square miles. “We plan on a system for phone notification in the future once the pilot program has proven itself,” added Thompson.
Thompson and Meyers introduced the program in a posting on the nextdoor.com website. “This *free* service will be utilized on roadways throughout Fort Bend County, Precinct 3 by assisting drivers with moving vehicles off the side of the road, clearing the roadway for the other drivers, and keeping the disabled motorists out of harm’s way,” according to the Aug. 27 posting.
In the posting, Meyers said, “This program will be a huge benefit to the drivers in Precinct 3. Our community is growing rapidly - adding thousands more drivers and miles of new roadways every year. Our hope is that this program will help relieve congestion and increase the safety of stranded motorists in the area.”
Meyers said Thompson approached him about a joint Motorist Assistance Program for Precinct 3. The truck is equipped with emergency tools, gas cans and a jump-starter.
“My office funded the equipment and Constable Thompson provided the vehicle and reserve deputies to man the vehicle,” said Meyers. “The reserves serve at no cost to the county. We did not have a funding source for a fully-staffed and equipped MAP. We implemented this as a pilot program to prove the concept for the county and Precinct 3,” he said.
Meyers explained that the Houston-Galveston Area Council has a pilot Motorist Assistance Program with the city of Houston that is funded by federal dollars to assist stranded motorists. He is past president and current member of the H-GAC’s board as a representative of Fort Bend County. That H-GAC program with Houston includes using private tow operators to move stalled vehicles out of lanes of traffic and to the nearest safe place, he added.
Background information provided in a June 7, 2018 H-GAC Technical Advisory Committee agenda said that H-GAC currently funds these regional incident management activities: Quick Clearing Towing Program within the city limits of Houston, Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Motorist Assistance Program and Harris County Sheriff’s Office Incident Management Unit.
Meyers said, “I would like for Fort Bend County to be the next area for the MAP. As such, in the last legislative session, my office successfully got legislation passed (SB 1501) to allow area counties to be part of just such a program. We are working with H-GAC on upgrading towing/storage/operations software that could be utilized by the counties and cities in the region. H-GAC already has a contract with a software vendor that simply needs to have an interface with the state’s Regional Incident Management System (RIMS), which I’m assured is a simple task.”
“Within the next year or two,” said Meyers, “We hope to have proven our concept and have software in place for the counties/cities to manage a MAP, including towing stalled vehicles to the nearest safe location under a federally-funded program.”