There are few things worse and dangerous than getting stuck on the side of the road. However, if you are stranded on a toll road in North Texas, help may not be far away.
The North Texas Tollway Authority at any given time has seven Roadway Customer Service trucks rolling up and down their roads, and by May of 2012, they had already responded to 9,500 calls. In each and every incident, the service they provided was free.
Zelalem Woldu is one of the members of the NTTA Roadway Customer Service team.
"There is nothing as important as helping people stranded down the highway,” said Woldu.
That's what he does all day, every day, scanning the highways and looking for those in need.
Safety for Woldu came first. He prepared and setup the truck’s flashing lights and a lighted board system that directed traffic away from the scene. He then called in the license plate of the stranded vehicle and put cones out behind both vehicles to warn other drivers.
Only then, once everyone was as safe as could be, did he approach the driver. In the first incident, the driver got his vehicle back up and running without any help.
Woldu quickly reloaded his gear when another call came in.
"Grey Honda Accord with a flat tire,” said the dispatcher to Woldu.
Woldu hit the road and minutes later arrived to find another Roadway Customer Service truck already helping out. Gus Papageorge’s daughter called him with a flat tire, so he called the NTTA.
"Met them here, and they showed up and they are changing the tire for me,” said Papageorge.
He appreciated the service, but really appreciated the added safety.
"Just sitting there in my car and feeling the vibrations of the high speed cars as they are going by, makes you realize what a scary situation it is,” Papageorge told CW 33 News.
Back in the truck and on the road, Woldu scanned the road for more stranded drivers when he came across a motorcyclist who had run out of gas.
"I just didn't even know that service like this was even offered, and I really appreciate it, it was a surprise,” said motorcyclist Adam Gonzales.
Within two minutes, the bike was gassed up and Gonzales headed to work. He was a little late but very appreciative.
"I got to say, it was an answer to God, because I was saying, 'Oh God, what am I going to do?'" said Gonzales.