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Highway Emergency Response Operators (HEROs)

Georgia DOT strives to reduce highway congestion and Highway Emergency Response Operators (HEROs) are the key component of our incident management program.

A Day in the Life of a HERO

Thoughts from a ride-along with a Highway Emergency Response Operator

November 29, 2016

By Katie Gable

HERO Operator

Redley Pinkney. Before getting into the truck, I asked Mr. Pinkney how long he has been a HERO.

Almost eight years he told me. For almost eight years, Mr. Pinkney has risked his life to help others in need on dangerous, congested roads.

He has also been a substitute teacher for 11 years. I quickly realized this was a man who not only works hard to keep his family stable, but to stabilize others as well.

One characteristic of Mr. Pinkney that stood out to me was how positive and humorous he made every situation. From work to risks to life lessons, he had something wise to say.

And it is those life lessons that keep him being a HERO every week. Two that he constantly stands by are the Golden Rule and Serenity Prayer. The Serenity Prayer is essentially about having peace with your life and the courage and wisdom to get through it.

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HERO Unit Statistics


HERO Positions
Active HERO Positions


HERO Centerline Miles of Coverage
Centerline Miles of Coverage

33 Minutes

HERO Average Incident Clearance Time
Average Incident Clearance Time




Travelers Say Thank You to HEROs

    HEROs are dispatched to traffic-related incidents with the primary duty to clear roads so that normal traffic flow is restored. Secondarily, HEROs assist stranded motorists by:

    • Changing flat tires
    • Jump-starting batteries
    • Providing fuel or coolant
    • Pushing vehicles to the shoulder
    • Transporting motorists to safe areas away from traffic
    • Providing travel information
    • Offering use of a cell phone
    • Administering first aid
    • Performing minor mechanical repairs

    There is no charge for HERO service.

    • Relieve congestion and maintain consistent traffic flow at incident locations
    • Reduce response time to traffic-related incidents
    • Patrol 310 miles of metro Atlanta freeways on 31 routes every day during peak hours
    • Respond to incidents on metro Atlanta freeways 24/7
    • Provide support to law enforcement, first-response and other emergency agencies
    • Assist in clearing stalled vehicles from travel lanes
    • Help stranded motorists with minor mechanical problems

    HEROs currently patrol the following metro Atlanta freeways:

    • I-20 between Thornton Rd. (Exit 44) and SR20/SR138/Stockbridge Hwy. (Exit 82)
    • I-75 between SR 155 (Exit 216) and Emerson-Allatoona Rd. (Exit 283)
    • I-85 between SR 74/Senoia Rd. (Exit 61) and SR 20 (Exit 115)
    • I-285 between Washington Rd. (Exit 1) and Old National Hwy. (Exit 62)
    • I-575 between Barrett Pkwy. (Exit 1) and Townlake Pkwy. (Exit 8)
    • I-675 between I-75 and I-285
    • I-985 between I-85 and Spout Springs Rd./Flowery Branch Rd. (Exit 12)
    • SR 166/Langford Pkwy. between I-285 and I-75/85
    • US 78 between Valley Brook Rd./N. Druid Hills (Exit 1) and West Park Place Blvd. (Exit 9)
    • SR 400 between Sidney Marcus Blvd/Piedmont Rd. (Exit 1) and Windward Pkwy (Exit 11)

    HERO Routes

    Route Map

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    Funding for the HERO program has been provided by Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) Fund under the guidance of the Atlanta Regional Commission's (ARC) Incident Management Taskforce. The Taskforce members include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), GDOT, traffic reporters, emergency and first-response agencies and the private sector. State Farm is also providing sponsorship contributions to the HERO program.

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    If you have comments about the HERO Program, or if you've been helped by a HERO and would like to say thanks, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact Us.


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