G-DOT’s new CHAMP program helping thousands this year

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– A roadside assistance and maintenance program that kicked off in Georgia last February has already helped more than 30,000 people in the state. CHAMP is a division of G-DOT– a 24/7 service that works to make Georgia a safer place to travel.

CHAMP is the eyes and ears for the Georgia Department of Transportation. With nearly 50 workers throughout the state, CHAMP saves you time and money.

“Back in service. The motorist is going to standby on the right shoulder for a private tow,” Ronnie McNorton, CHAMP Supervisor, said in his walkie-talkie after helping a broke down vehicle.

The Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program, better known as CHAMP, not only helps law enforcement, but the free service is for Georgia travelers who call 5-1-1.

“If you have a flat tire and need assistance, you can call. If you run out of gas, you can call. If you have minor mechanical problems, you can call. Really, about anything,” McNorton said.

CHAMP workers spend their days travelling back and forth on designated interstate. They look for broken down cars, debris blocking traffic, potholes, and even assist with car wrecks.

“It’s a contractor that has a contract for up to five years, AECOM, that runs all of these trucks, hires all the employees, but it is still under the umbrella of G-DOT. This is a G-DOT funded program through state funds,” Kyle Collins, G-DOT’s District Communication Specialist, told me. I took a ride with CHAMP Supervisor McNorton, and we came across a broken down car.

“How are you doing man? Are you doing alright?” McNorton asked the person with the broken down car. He replied, “”It won’t start. It has been overheating all morning.”

“His vehicle is overheating, and it cuts off, so he has been stopping every so many miles to let the vehicle cool off, and then it will restart. That is something we can’t do anything about, but I instructed him that if he needs our help after we left, dial 5-1-1, and we will come back out here, and help him,” McNorton told me.

CHAMP covers all Georgia interstates except those in Metro Atlanta, which uses the HERO program.

“Just like any emergency responder, the CHAMPS, we encourage folks to abide by the move-over law. Anytime you see those flashing lights, definitely move over one lane if at all possible, and if you can’t do that, please slow down,” Collins wanted to remind drivers.

Between CHAMP and the HERO program out of Atlanta, Georgia has the largest state-wide highway assistance program in the nation.

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