Addition to app makes SHEP easier to access

Shep responders provide fuel, tire changes, and basic repairs.
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Drivers with vehicle problems will get roadside assistance more quickly thanks to technology recently added by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

The DOT has added a new feature on its 511 App to allow motorists on most interstate highways to contact the State Highway Emergency Program for roadside assistance. Selecting the “SCDOT SHEP Roadside Assistance” tab connects users with the closest dispatch phone number.

In the Upstate, the program is available daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., from Mile Marker 19 to the North Carolina line.

The program has helped about 35,000 South Carolina motorists in each of the past two years, DOT Traffic Management Engineer Rob Perry said.

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"A lot of folks don't know the service is available," Perry said of the program, now 21 years old. "I still talk to a lot of people who do not know that if they have problems on the interstate, all they've got to do is hit 'star HP' on their phone and a truck will come to get them going."

SHEP has helped an estimated 800,000 motorists across the state since its inception in 1996, according to the DOT.

“The motorists in our state know that when they see the blue trucks coming, help is on the way,” said DOT Secretary Christy A. Hall said in a release, adding that the SHEP's "impact on the state’s economy, the public, and the flow of traffic is countless and without measure.”

Disabled vehicles "can quickly cause traffic to back up for miles; the sooner they’re helped and on their way, the sooner traffic gets back to normal," Hall said.

SHEP responders are able to quickly change tires, perform basic repairs, and provide small amounts of gasoline. SHEP responders are also trained in clearing wrecked vehicles from travel lanes.

SCDOT’s 511 app, which is free and available with iOS and Android devices, has current travel information including live streaming traffic cameras.

The SCDOT 511 website is http://www.511sc.org/. SHEP can also be reached by dialing *HP.

For more information on SCDOT SHEP, visit http://www.scdot.org/getting/shep.aspx.

Follow Abe Hardesty on Twitter@abe.hardesty.