SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - CHAMP is the Georgia Department of Transportation’s roadside assistance and maintenance program for the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
They not only help drivers when they’re broken down or run out of gas; they’re also very helpful before and after storms and during hurricane season.
While riding with Operator Matt Daughtry, WTOC came upon several cars along the highway. We saw one couple from Florida who had just pulled over to take a break.
A stop like that is what puts the “A” for Assistance in CHAMP. Daughtry is always looking out. He says he’s constantly scanning shoulder to shoulder. That’s a lot of scanning.
CHAMP covers I-16 from the Back River Bridge to mile maker 90 on I-16, which is the US-1 Exit. They also cover I-95 from the Florida state line to the South Carolina state line, including checking out the welcome centers in and out of South Carolina.
As he hopped out a grabbed a shovel to clear a drain on I-516, Daughtry said, “We’ll clean off this drain structure here as just kind of a preventative maintenance in case there’s storm that comes through. Just a few minutes right now can save a lot of issues in the future. If a storm hits with all that stuff on it, it just can’t drain off. It can get in the travel lane and cause an accident."
That’s how Daughtry puts the “M” for Maintenance in CHAMP. He plays a little unintentional cat and mouse and snatches it up debris on the interstate. It looks dangerous, and like a lot of work for one piece of debris.
“You never know what it could have prevented. It could have gotten tangled up somebody’s car and caused an accident. Even the small things, that’s something you really can’t quantify is the accidents that you stopped from happening," Daughtry said.
The rest of the ride-along was tagging abandoned cars. Some come back and others don’t.
As we get deeper into hurricane season, the grace period of how long the car is left gets smaller.
“Overall, it gets a little less lenient on letting them sit out here just so everything is clear in case the storm does hit,” Daughtry said.
The green stickers don’t have any towing properties. It’s for time purposes, and if the driver comes back and still needs help, the number is on the sticker.