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How to Use 511 and California FSP

California’s 511 and Freeway Safety Programs (FSP) are free services meant to help you avoid traffic backups and find help if you run into a roadway issue.

If you have a mobile phone, you can utilize these traffic aides right from your car. 511 offers urgent traffic updates and public transit tips for most regions of California. FSP is a resource that helps you find assistance if you have car issues along a freeway.

Dialing Up Help on California 511

California’s 511 service is a traffic information hub that can update you by phone, by text alert, and in real-time on their website. You simply dial those three numbers.

When you call 511, the automated system will be able to tell where you are calling from and direct you to the latest traffic news in your region. It’s supposed to be updated every few minutes when new is breaking.

511 can provide these services and more:

  • Alerts about traffic tie-ups, accidents, and closures
  • Alerts about landslides
  • Alerts about construction slowdowns
  • Alerts about public transit schedules
  • A constantly updated map of local traffic levels and accidents on the website for your region
  • Road construction updates
  • 511 text alerts
  • Twitter updates about recent collisions affecting traffic.
  • Some 511 home pages give you access to traffic cams at busy intersections around your city
  • You can also call 511 and say “freeway assist” to get help if you break down.

CalTrans can direct you to the specific website for your 511 city or region.

There’s a traffic map for the San Jose and San Francisco region at Bay Area 511. covers Southern California including Los Angeles.

Kern 511 provides access to traffic resources for Bakersfield and surrounding cities like Delano and Ridgecrest.

So Cal 511 App for Local Travelers

Officials behind the 511 program for Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California are testing a new app called So Cal 511. It offers drivers the chance to get directions, to click “favorite” on their most used routes, and other handy tools. Users will also be able to plan their trips by bicycle or by walking. The app even features a new social feature to link motorists across So Cal.

The app covers Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. If you want to help test it out, you can get more information here.

Getting Help from the Freeway Service Patrol

The Freeway Safety Program offers a lifeline to drivers stranded or experiencing an emergency along California’s freeway system. It’s a program created as a partnership between the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Caltrans.

The FSP network is made up of thousands of specially trained tow truck drivers who patrol the worst sections of the busiest freeways. They respond as quickly as possible to minor emergencies that leave drivers stuck and traffic backed up. Every year the FSP assists around 600,000 motorists.

The best part about FSP assistance is that it’s free. They patrol Monday through Friday during the busiest commuting hours and during some holidays. FSP responders help with these types of emergencies and more:

  • Providing gas for anyone who runs out
  • Jump-starting a dead car battery
  • Changing a flat tire
  • Helping with radiator and hose issues
  • Towing your vehicle to an approved California Highway Patrol (CHP) site for free if your car can’t be revived
  • Report your accident to the CHP

It’s important to note that FSP does not help respond to accidents unless the California Highway Patrol requests help on the scene.

There are FSP patrollers in places you’d expect, like San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. There are also FSP services available in Fresno, Sacramento, and along the coastline.

How do I Get Help from the Freeway Service Patrol (FSP)?

You can call for FSP assistance by dialing 511. You should be able to say “Freeway assist” and be connected immediately to help.

There are also call boxes posted along freeways in the FSP service area. You can dial from these phones to get help.

A Helping Hand When For Next Trip or Commute in California

California’s 511 and the FSP work together to keep traffic flowing smoothly and to help you avoid bottlenecks when it isn’t flowing so smoothly. It’s a short number that’s easy for drivers to dial and still keep their attention on the lanes ahead. 511 is a welcome lifeline, especially on California roads where drivers can get reckless and careless.

It’s a program that is available in most states. It pays to remember those three numbers no matter where you are traveling. 511 offers quick, free updates and responses when you are planning a drive or you require help.

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