Have you received an e-mail saying that the Texas Department of Public Safety offers free roadside assistance and that the phone number is on the back of your Texas driver license?
That’s sort of true, but not exactly. If you have a roadside problem (NOT an emergency like a major car wreck), you can call that number on the driver license and DPS will pass along your information to the nearest local authorities, who may or may not offer roadside assistance. Any any rate, the motorist will be responsible for any charges for towing or repairing a flat tire, etc.
Here is the information from the DPS Web site:
The public needs to be aware that an erroneous e-mail is being circulated about the Texas Department of Public Safety Roadside Assistance Hotline.
The toll-free line has been operated by DPS since 1989 for motorists to use when reporting non-life-threatening situations on Texas roads and highways. DPS then passes the information along to the appropriate local police agency or DPS office.
If a tow truck is ultimately dispatched, the motorist is responsible for any costs incurred. Some cities and agencies do have courtesy patrols and roadside trucks to provide non-towing services and they may be dispatched by the local agencies when appropriate. These two points are misrepresented in the widely-circulated e-mail that has led to an increase in inquiries to the Roadside Assistance Hotline.
The number, 1-800-525-5555, is printed on the back of virtually all Texas driver licenses and identification cards. Customers of participating wireless companies – ALLTEL, Nextel, Cingular Wireless, Houston Cellular and Verizon Wireless – can dial *DPS (*377) free of airtime charges anywhere in Texas.
Examples of when a motorist should call the Roadside Assistance Hotline include: stranded with car problems, hazardous road conditions, debris in the roadway, suspicious activity at a rest area, and obviously intoxicated or dangerous drivers.
The Roadside Assistance Hotline is not intended to replace 911 as an emergency number; 911 should still be the first option for emergency situations.
To better assist our communications operators please have the following information ready:
- Your name, cell phone number (and vehicle description if applicable);
- Highway location (mile marker would be helpful); and
- County location, or city location if inside city limits.