MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With no relief in sight for this oppressive heat wave, motorists are being urged to make sure their vehicles are “road ready”. TDOT workers are answering more calls for assistance from drivers who are out of gas or have engine problems.
Friday, Christopher Wilson was at the wheel of his bright yellow TDOT HELP truck, cruising the south leg of I-240 and keeping an eye out for motorists stranded in the heat.
“You got to remember these people have their cars broke down which means their air conditioner’s not working,” Wilson said. “They may run out of gas, they may overheat. We’re coming up on them and they may be dehydrated. We have often seen babies that are starting to get hot and we’re giving them water.”
Wilson says his HELP truck carries bottled water for heat victims and gallons of water for overheated vehicle engines. Wilson, like the other seven other TDOT HELP truck operators working the Memphis area, carries fuel for drivers who have run out of gas.
Wilson says because fuel is so costly, people are trying to stretch the amount of gas in their vehicle and that can put drivers and passengers in harm’s way.
“People trying to get by and make it to the next exit,” Wilson said. “Well, you get out here, and it’s a hundred degrees, we may not be able to get to you right away. We may be at a accident, which is our main priority, and we may not be able to get to you, so you need to have your tanks full.”
Vehicle breakdowns during extreme heat are reasons TDOT workers get to stranded motorists as quickly as possible.
One woman’s front tire blew out on I-240, and her biggest fear while she waited for help was running out of gas before they got there.
She was overjoyed to see the yellow TDOT HELP truck make the scene before her tank ran dry.
“Stranded, yea it did worry me, worried me a lot,” she said. “But they were able to fix it before it could get out of hand.”
During April and May of this year, TDOT help truck operators in Memphis gave motorists 755 gallons of fuel. That compares to 370 gallons for the same time in 2021.