Clearing the Roadway The HRT works with a strong emphasis on “rapid roadway clearance.” This means that incidents such as stalled vehicles, crashes, and traffic hazards are all moved off the roadway as soon as is safely possible. Exchanging information at crash scenes, waiting for tow trucks, maintenance workers or other forms of assistance can all be done more safely in a parking lot or side road than on the sides of high-speed roadways. HRT cars and SUV’s are specially-equipped with hitches and tow chains, straps and other equipment to move inoperable vehicles from the roadway. The following programs have also been established to provide more assistance to drivers on Austin’s high-speed roadways.

Rush Hour Zones During morning (6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.) and afternoon (4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) rush hours, tow trucks from companies on the city-approved rotation list are staged at various locations (Zones) along Austin’s high-speed roadways, which include North and South Mopac Expy., Research Bl./N. US Hwy 183, and North and South IH 35. These wreckers are staged for faster response times and, in some cases, will move disabled vehicles from high-speed roadways to a safe location for no charge.

Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Program The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, in partnership with TxDOT, operates HERO program vehicles to provide free assistance to motorists on Interstate 35 between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition to helping officers at traffic-related incidents, HERO drivers provide roadside assistance to motorists such as helping change flat tires and providing small amounts of gasoline to move off the roadway. Drivers can call for HERO assistance directly at (512) 974-HERO (4376), or contact APD for assistance. You can learn more information about the HERO program from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

If your vehicle is disabled on a high-speed roadway, regardless of what time of day it is, we encourage you to call 911 or 311 (as applicable) for police assistance as soon as possible.

STAR CART A dedicated civilian employee (retired police officer) conducts training to teenagers throughout the city. The STAR CART Program is an interactive program that is offered to driving age teenagers. The program is a two-day course that is presented mainly in AISD High School classes. The first day is a lecture on the laws, health issues and consequences concerning the use of alcohol. The second day a driving course is set up in the parking lot using traffic cones. The students are given the opportunity to drive the course two times. The first attempt the student drives unimpaired. On the second attempt on the student puts on a pair of Fatal Vision goggles. These goggles are specially made to give the appearance of being impaired. When driving the course the student will need to negotiate the turns and other obstacles. Hopefully the student will discover how difficult and dangerous it is the drive while impaired.

Aggressive Driving The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Offenses include passing during congestion or bad road conditions, construction, or bad weather; passing on the shoulder; speeding; running red lights and stop signs; following too closely; and road rage. In 2009, speeding was a contributing factor in almost 24,000 crashes in Texas. Responsible and safe driving is the responsibility of all of our citizens. We strongly encourage our residents to stay alert, slow down, respect our traffic laws, and drive courteously. Read more about Aggressive Driving at the National Safety Council website.