A Georgia DOT HERO unit on patrol. (Courtesy GDOT)

If you have a flat tire or breakdown on Georgia’s interstates in the wee hours, don’t expect help from a HERO unit.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced it will “temporarily pause” its roadside assistance program, Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO), during overnight hours starting July 1.

In a press release, the DOT cited a decrease in HERO unit operators as the reason for the pause.

“After thoughtful analysis, Georgia DOT has determined that the existing number of operators is too low to maintain 24-hour active patrols along the current 382-mile coverage area,” the press release stated. “Georgia DOT continues to aggressively recruit and train new operators with the goal of relaunching 24-hour active HERO patrols in 2024.”

The DOT said it would keep a contingent of HERO units on call in case of roadway emergencies when law enforcement or emergency services require additional assistance.

The new active patrol schedule effective July 1 will be Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

“HERO units will continue to actively patrol during daytime and evening hours when traffic volumes are the highest and when approximately 91 percent of incidents typically occur,” the DOT press release said.

In addition to the temporary schedule modification, the HERO coverage area will also be temporarily modified. To ensure no segment of patrolled interstate is without coverage during specific hours of each day, DOT will temporarily adjust its Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance (CHAMP) routes to supplement HERO service on 135 miles of HERO-monitored routes.

CHAMP is a separate but similar program that patrols and responds to needs on interstate highways outside of metro Atlanta. CHAMP actively patrols those routes from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

The DOT said its goal is to relaunch 24-hour active HERO patrols in 2024. Those interested in becoming a HERO trainee are encouraged to visit HERO Trainee | GDOT Employment (arcgis.com).

HERO patrols were first launched in 1994 and expanded to 24 hours in 2014.

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Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.