About SAFE 511

WHO?

SAFE is a governmental entity, created by state legislation, responsible for purchasing, installing, operating, and maintaining a motorist aid system of call boxes.

San Diego SAFE is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors whose members are appointed by the County Board of Supervisors and the eighteen cities within the county.

SAFE contracts with TeleTran Tek Services for its staffing requirements.

The SAFE board holds a bimonthly public meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month from January through November. The Meeting is held in Room 303 or 358 of the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego. Suggestions and comments from the public are always welcomed.

WHAT?

SAFE operates and maintains a system of freeway and rural stateway highway call boxes. It forms a network of cellular telephones, designed especially to link the County’s more than 280 miles of freeways and 255 of rural state highways to the California Highway Patrol (CHP). For motorists in distress from automobile failure or other roadside emergencies, assistance is available from police, fire, ambulance, towing, and other service personnel or even from a family member or friend. Motorists simply raise the handset of a call box and press the red “call” button. The telephone connects the motorist directly to a trained dispatcher, who ensures that the appropriate roadside services are made available to stranded motorists.

WHEN AND WHERE?

The state legislation, which authorized formation of county SAFEs,went into effect on January 1, 1986. San Diego County was the first to respond to this legislation, forming California’s first SAFE on January 31, 1986.

San Diego SAFE completed its first phase on February 27, 1989, with the installation of 999 call boxes along major freeways in the county. In March of 1990, another 172 call boxes were installed along Interstate 8 going east to about 8 miles short of the Imperial County line. In November of 1990, 77 call boxes were installed at selected freeway transition ramp locations, as well as 21 Caltrans Park and Ride lots. There are now 1,655 call boxes on San Diego freeways and rural state highways. This includes 255 rural boxes installed in December 1994 on state routes 67, 75, 76, 78, 79, and 188.

Call boxes are installed every half mile on each side of the freeways and approximately every mile, on one side of the road, on state highways. Gaps may exist on rural roads where cell signal or a safe pull-off could not be located.

HOW?

The call boxes are self-contained telephones that combine state-of-the-art cellular technology with microchip computer technology. Among the unique features are:

  • Solar powered, cellular operation
  • Direct voice communication with CHP Dispatch Center
  • Automatic call box location to CHP dispatcher
  • Automatic maintenance chek-in and alarms
  • Tilt and anti-tampering alarms
  • 99.97% reliability of system electronics

The operation of this system is made possible by a $1.00 yearly fee on vehicle registrations in San Diego County assessed through the Department of Motor Vehicles. SAFE staff works closely with Caltrans concerning the siting and installation plans for new call boxes, and with CHP on efficient response to call box calls.

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