PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --
The Maine Turnpike Authority announced the launch Friday of a new safety patrol for portions of the highway to keep drivers safe.
The State Farm Safety Patrol is a free service for drivers along the Maine Turnpike.
It will operate year-round between exit 48 in Portland to Exit 32 in Biddeford Monday through Thursday, 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Then, starting on Memorial Day, it adds extra summer patrols between the Piscataqua River Bridge and Kennebunk on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and holidays. That "summer service" goes from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
The goal of the program is to mitigate traffic incidents, assist drivers in times of need, save lives, alleviate congestion, and help prevent secondary crashes.
Mainers are not charged for services provided and patrol drivers do not accept tips.
Safety Patrol officers are not law enforcement officers, but will help them and other first responders with traffic control at accidents and other incidents.
“We can both change tires, we can both give a gallon of gas, we can both make a scene safer," said Chris Beach, an operations manager. "Our trucks are equipped with tools that make the job go easier and quicker as well, which time always adds up to safety. We can carry some of that burden for them so that they can handle other responsibilities which may take precedent.”
Maine is the fifteenth state to benefit from the program.