The San Diego Association of
Governments (SANDAG) became the operator of the Call Box Program in San Diego County
in January 2013. SANDAG now operates and maintains a system of more than 1,200 call
boxes along urban and rural state highways.
The call boxes form a network of cellular telephones, designed to link travelers
in need on the county's urban and rural highways to call center staff 24 hours per
day. Assistance is available from police, fire, ambulance, towing, and other service
personnel, or even from a family member or friend. Motorists simply open the yellow
call box, pick up the phone, and press the "call" button to reach a call center,
where an operator ensures that the stranded motorist is connected with the appropriate
roadside assistance service.
Call boxes are typically installed every half mile on both sides of urban highways
and about every mile, on one side of the road, on rural state highways. SANDAG works
closely with Caltrans to prepare site and installation plans for new call boxes,
and with CHP on efficient response to call box calls.
The call boxes are self-contained telephones that combine cellular technology with
microchip computer technology to provide several features:
- Solar powered, cellular operation
- Direct voice communication with CHP Dispatch Center
- Automatic call box location to CHP dispatcher
- Automatic maintenance check-in and alarms
- Tilt and anti-tampering alarms
- 99.97% reliability of system electronics
The operation of the call box system is made possible by a $1 annual fee on vehicle
registrations in each participating county. The fee is collected by the California
Department of Motor Vehicles.