A toll-free number was established in 1989 to get help to motorists whose vehicles are disabled on state and federal roads in Texas. The number, 800-525-5555, is printed on the back of all Texas driver licenses and ID cards, and is for motorists to use when reporting a need for non-emergency assistance. It is not a substitute for 9-1-1 and it is not a Customer Service line to answer Driver License questions or other routine matters for other divisions of DPS. It is for motorists who have a legitimate need for assistance on Texas roadways. Despite what some e-mails say, motorists who call the toll-free number are not provided a free yearly tow or a free voucher for fuel.
The Hotline is answered at DPS Austin Communications by operators who take necessary information from motorists. The information is then relayed to the appropriate police agency that will provide help or send a unit to check on the motorist's welfare until help arrives.
Examples of when a motorist may call the Hotline include:
If the situation is an emergency, motorists should call 9-1-1.
To better assist personnel who answer the Hotline, motorists should have the following information readily available when calling:
Customers of wireless companies, ALLTEL, Nextel, AT&T/Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, and T-Mobile, can also dial *DPS (*377) anywhere in Texas to report non-emergency situations. DPS and the Texas Highway Patrol have no control over areas of cell phone coverage and are not responsible if a motorist cannot contact the Hotline using *377 or 800-525-5555 because of coverage issues, defective cell phones or batteries.
The Stranded Motorist Hotline is not intended to replace 9-1-1 as an emergency number. 9-1-1 should still be the first option for emergency situations.
Tow trucks are not dispatched by the DPS or the Texas Highway Patrol at the state's expense. Hotline operators will refer callers who need a tow to the appropriate local law enforcement agency, provide the caller with a number for the law enforcement agency or courtesy patrol, or send assistance to check on the motorist's safety and welfare until other help arrives. If a tow truck or other non-towing service is dispatched, the motorist is ultimately responsible for any costs incurred.
Texas Highway Patrol troopers are not certified repair technicians and are not equipped with proper tools to repair vehicles on the roadside. For safety reasons, Highway Patrol troopers cannot provide mechanical repair and towing services or carry extra fuel for motorists.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and some cities and agencies do have courtesy patrols and roadside trucks to provide non-towing services. They are dispatched by local agencies when appropriate.
Locksmith services that may be needed when keys are locked in a vehicle are referred to local agencies so they may provide a telephone number for companies who provide those services. Highway Patrol troopers are not equipped with the appropriate tools to unlock vehicles.
Driver License questions should be made directly to DPS Driver Improvement at 512-424-7120 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The website, www.txdps.state.tx.us may also be used for online services to access helpful information, obtain Driver License office locations and contact numbers, or to contact the Driver License Customer Service Bureau.
Road conditions and travel information inquiries should be made directly to the TXDOT toll-free number, 800-452-9292. This number is helpful for obtaining statewide road conditions and current weather information. This information is updated regularly by TXDOT.
The website also has additional travel resources for planning commutes, road trips and vacations. Information including maps, traffic cameras, safety rest areas, tourist services, travel information centers, toll roads and airport information, and Motor Carrier information can be obtained from the TXDOT website at www.txdot.state.tx.us by selecting the Travel Tab.
Motorists are encouraged to use the Hotline when needed, but should remember that unnecessary, needless calls to the Hotline could delay responses to callers who have a legitimate, timely need for assistance. Questions about other services provided by DPS and TXDOT may be answered using other informational resources listed above.
Public Information Office
Texas Department of Public Safety
512 424 2080