Free help for drivers on Harris County toll roads this holiday season

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- More than 8 million Texans are driving to their holiday destination this year. Thousands of them will end up on the side of the road with a tire blowout or break down. There is a free service which can help you on Harris County toll roads.

ABC13 Eyewitness News' Elissa Rivas rode along with supervisor Jarett Pasley of HCTRA's Incident Response Team.

"Most common is flat tires and people running out of gas," said Pasley. "They say, 'I was going to take the next exit. I thought I was going to make it.'"

HCTRA provides a free tire change, gallon of gas, a battery jump start, minor mechanical assistance or a tow off the tollway to a safe spot.

"Most of the time, people are just happy that you stopped," said Pasley. "When you actually have cars flying past you, it tends to scare you a little bit, because your car is rocking."

Pasley knows the dangers. A piece of flying debris injured him on the job in 2017, fracturing his pelvis and breaking two bones in his back. Amazingly, after six months, he was back on the road.

"I love helping people, I just felt like I wasn't done here," Pasley said.

Now, Pasley is sharing what he's learned about road safety.

Always check the air in your spare tire before a trip. Pasley says drivers commonly forget, and it's flat when you need it most.

Next, the safest place for you if you have a breakdown is in your car. Resist the urge to walk around too much to survey the damage. Wait for help.

Heavy holiday traffic carries its own pitfalls. Pasley says sometimes visitors will try to stop in EZ-Tag lanes, because they're unsure of what to do without a tag. Be mindful as you drive those lanes that other drivers could suddenly put on the brakes.

"I tell them just go ahead and go through," Pasley said.

HCTRA has a tab on its homepage where you can pay a missed toll.

If you need to contact HCTRA for road assistance, the number is (281) 584-7500.
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