A Crew By Any Other Name? NCDOT Signs First Sponsorship Deal
Stranded motorists in North Carolina may think a particular insurance company is coming to their rescue. This after the North Carolina Department of Transportation signed its first sponsorship deal, for roadside assistance crews.
If you blow a tire, run out of gas, or need some other kind of assistance, and are near one of North Carolina’s big cities, just dial *HP on your phone and help will come thanks to a fleet of trucks run and paid for by the state. "There are about 80 drivers," says Steve Abbott, communications manager for the NCDOT, "And we focus obviously in the bigger areas, they’re in the Charlotte area, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington, Raleigh and out in Asheville."
The service, originally called the Incident Management Assistance Patrol, or IMAP is free. And the DOT says it helped more than 100,000 motorists last year alone. But the budget for IMAP was cut last summer. And the General Assembly told the DOT to do as NASCAR does...go get some big corporate sponsors. That's just what they did says Abbott.
"In this case, it’s going to be State Farm for the IMAP patrols. It’s a four year deal at about $600,000 a year." That’s actually much less than the state hoped. They estimated between $800,000 to $2.2 million annually from the sponsorship.
The service will still be the same, but now the trucks are emblazoned with State Farm’s logo. So, too, is the uniform of the drivers. But Abbot says the drivers "won’t be trying to convince people to change to State Farm insurance."
As for other DOT sponsorship deals? "Down the road it could be rest stops. It could be ferries. They really didn’t put a limit on us."
Which means one day you could drive past the Cheerwine rest stop just before you hop the Bojangles Ferry to Hatteras.