(LOS ANGELES, July 12, 2005) — Los Angeles County's new #399 freeway service phone number, in effect July 1, gives stranded motorists another tool to reach the Automobile Club of Southern California or other assistance on their cell phones.
The #399 phone number was established by Metro, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, as an extension of the "freeway call box" program to allow motorists with cell phones to call for vehicle assistance on freeways, report non-emergency freeway hazards or request freeway repairs more quickly and safely. Officials hope the new phone number will help relieve pressure on the overburdened 911 emergency number so that medical, fire and law enforcement emergency calls can also be handled more quickly.
"Motorists in Los Angeles County who have a vehicle problem on the freeway or who see freeway safety hazards or freeway damage can call #399 on their cell phones to report the problem," said Dan Beal, the Auto Club's managing director of public policy. "Auto Club members with a vehicle problem can continue to use the Auto Club's roadside assistance number on their membership card, 1-800-400-4AAA, or they can call #399 and their call will be forwarded to the Auto Club."
If a vehicle is disabled on a Los Angeles County freeway during normal heavy traffic hours, the Metro Freeway Service Patrol will assist the driver in trying to get the vehicle mobile again (i.e. repairing a flat tire, jump-starting the engine). If the vehicle must be towed, the Freeway Service Patrol truck will remove it from the freeway, but the motorist will need to use an Auto Club membership or a towing service to get the vehicle towed to a repair facility.
"The Freeway Service Patrol was established to improve traffic safety and reduce traffic congestion during rush hour by quickly assisting disabled vehicles," Beal said. "The patrol does a commendable job, and the #399 phone number will allow motorists to have more immediate access to roadside assistance during rush hour."
The #399 number does not work outside of Los Angeles County, and although the number is staffed by operators 24 hours a day, the Freeway Service Patrol is not available at all hours. Motorists can still use the freeway call boxes to obtain vehicle assistance if they do not have a cell phone.
"Motorists should still use 911 for emergencies requiring medical, fire department or law enforcement response," Beal said.