Michigan DOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol evaluation estimates benefit cost ratio of 15:1 and substantial savings in traffic delays and harmful emissions.

Southeast Michigan Detroit Area FY2008 Operations Assessment

Date Posted

MDOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol in Southeast Michigan: FY 2008 Evaluation Report

Summary Information

In response to congestion problems caused by incidents, the Alliance for a Safer Greater Detroit first implemented a Freeway Courtesy Patrol (FCP) program on a pilot basis in September 1994. Since its inception, the FCP program has focused on motorist safety and security while reducing congestion due to crashes and breakdowns on the Detroit area freeways. The program offers assistance to thousands of motorists on freeways in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) administers the program as part of its larger freeway incident management program out of the Michigan Intelligent Transportation Systems Center (MITSC) in Detroit.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) with support from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through the MDOT; the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning; and local membership contributions produced an annual report on the MDOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol (FCP) program.

This report summarizes operational changes and provides statistics on Freeway Courtesy Patrol (FCP) activities for the fiscal year 2008. The FCP is part of a comprehensive incident management initiative to improve operations of
the freeway system by reducing delay caused by non-recurring congestion. The MDOT manages the FCP program that provides vital services to Metro Detroit motorists from 5 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.


The FCP program has been a great success. The program assist 35,143 motorists in FY 2008. Motorists assisted by the FCP are very satisfied with the service they receive as documented by many correspondence submittals.

The motoring public and public-at-large also benefited from reduced congestion and improved air quality.

Air Quality Benefits

Over the years, the FCP program has been estimated to save millions of hours of delay on Southeast Michigan freeways.
  • In FY 2008, based on the average hours of delay saved, the FCP saved 2,094 kilograms per day of volatile organic compounds (VOC), 999 kilograms per day of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 15,411 kilograms per day of carbon monoxide (CO) pollutants. These numbers were calculated using a model developed specifically for FCP operations.
Benefit-Cost Analysis

In FY 2008, $2,133,700 was programmed in SEMCOG's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the FCP. This includes $1,707,000 from Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) and $426,700 from Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF). The actual annual operating cost for the FCP program for FY 2008 was just over $2.3 million. A $2.3 million budget translates into just over $191,000 a month. The monthly amount can vary based on the performance based contract currently in place. Additional funds were used to cover actual costs. A distinct advantage of roadside assistance programs is the benefit-cost analysis generated in terms of traffic flow and reduced congestion.
  • Using evaluation modeling tools that were customized to the Greater Detroit area, an analysis of the FCP indicates a benefit-cost savings ratio of 15.2:1. This means that for every dollar spent on the program in FY 2008 evaluation period, a benefit of at least $15.20 was realized.
This ratio is based on conservative benefit estimates.
  • Each year that the benefit-cost analysis was performed, from years 1996 through fiscal year 2008, the benefit-cost ratio ranges from a low of 9.2 to a high of 17.1, with most years trending around 14 to 16. The same basic methodology was used over this time period to increase the comparability of the results.
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