CHART Traffic Incident Management

The Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART) Emergency Patrols operate in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), and the Maryland State Police (MSP). The emergency patrols also assist all allied law enforcement agencies and fire/rescue departments in the State of Maryland.

Although most citizens associate the with motorist assistance, the primary function of the CHART Emergency Patrol is Traffic Incident Management. CHART, through best nationally recognized practices, supports the National Unified Goal by enhancing responder safety, coordinating the quick clearance of Maryland’s travel lanes, improving interagency communications and reducing secondary crashes, all in an effort to keep motorists safer and to keep Maryland moving forward on our roadways.


Emergency Traffic Patrols (ETP) have been helping stranded motorists and assisting police at incidents along Maryland’s interstates and highways since the 1980s. As traffic congestion and delays along US 50 to and from the Eastern Shore area stretched for miles and miles, MDOT SHA began a partnership with the Maryland State Police and opened the first Traffic Operations Center in Maryland – the Eastern Shore Traffic Operations (ESTO) Center, also known as Reach the Beach. The goal was to detect and respond to incidents that added to the already massive delays along US 50 between the Annapolis area and Ocean City.

CHART Emergency Patrol Routes

MDOT SHA Emergency Patrols operate 24/7 in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area and from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Western Region (Washington and Frederick Counties, and western Carroll and Howard Counties). Emergency Response Technicians (ERTs) are on call to assist managing incidents any time. CHART operates 43 emergency patrol vehicles covering more than 2,000 lane miles of Maryland highways. Although they have assigned patrol routes, the ERTs are available to assist with traffic incidents anywhere they are needed in the State.

Map of sections of Maryland covered by CHART emergency patrols 

​​Map of sections of Maryland covered by CHART emergency patrols.

Facts about the CHART Emergency Patrol

  • CHART ERTs assist a motorist every 14 minutes (average). That’s more than 37,400 motorist assists every year.
  • CHART ERTs manage traffic at a crash/incident once every 22 minutes.
  • This prevents an estimated 225-250 secondary crashes each year.
  • This also saves drivers approximately $1 billion annually in fuel and delay costs.
  • CHART has reduced major incident duration by as much as 40 to 50 percent in the past decade.

Whether directing traffic at a crash or other incident, or changing a flat tire for a motorist, or giving directions to someone who is lost, CHART emergency response technicians have a dangerous job performing these tasks in such close proximity to traffic. But it is very rewarding to know that these actions help to keep Maryland drivers moving forward.

There are three types of Emergency Patrol vehicles: heavy-duty utility body trucks, tow trucks, and Custom Response Vehicles (CRVs). All are 4-wheel drive. Although each truck carries similar equipment, such as vehicle relocation equipment, chainsaws, debris clearing equipment and a multitude of warning devices, each type of vehicle has its own mission. For example, all of the trucks have arrow boards; CRVs have a programmable message board that can provide specific directions to motorists. CRVs are also equipped with a generator and floodlights that are often requested to assist with crash investigations at night. All of the trucks are registered emergency vehicles and are equipped with the appropriate red flashing lights and sirens to get through slowed or stopped traffic.

CHART Emergency Response Technicians in Action


ERTs remain the heart and soul of the CHART program:

  • “On my way to Baltimore on I-70 my engine had issues and I pulled to the shoulder. All of a sudden, I saw the SHA yellow truck with lights. Please tell Steve - Thank You Thank You Thank you. He was my Guardian Angel that day.”
    - Joyce from Middletown, MD
  • “I was visiting my daughter’s family in northern Virginia and my rear tire blew. I pulled over on I-95 near Branch Avenue when Mr. Johnson showed up. He explained who he worked for and was calm, polite and very efficient. I am grateful to SHA for this service and believe he was nothing less than a Godsend.”
    - Denise from Farmington, PA
  • “I was stranded in the travel lane with a blowout tire on I-695 near Liberty Road. It was 11 p.m. and a dangerous situation. Mr. King arrived promptly, pushed me to the shoulder and used his tools to change my tire and get me out of a scary spot. What a great service and thanks SHA.”
    - Tom K. Jr. from Baltimore
  • “I merged onto MD 295 from I-95 and got a flat tire. I called for roadside assistance and no one showed up. Wesley from SHA pulled up, asked if I needed help, changed my tire and got me on my way in no time at all. Great customer service and thanks SHA.”
    - Lynette from Bloomington, Illinois
  • “After a long day at work I broke down right on the American Legion Bridge. Eric from CHART showed up and helped me to the shoulder and changed my tire. I was so thankful he came by. Thank you for a great program.”
    - Pan from Rockville, MD
  • “I ran out of gas on I-70 in Frederick and had my 10-month-old in the car. I had waited a while for my roadside service when Kim from SHA CHART showed up. She was friendly, professional and my HERO! She wouldn’t accept a tip – just a huge thank you from me.”
    - Diana from Mount Airy, MD
  • “I got a flat tire on the US 50 Severn River Bridge near Annapolis. I was wondering how I could get home safely when Chris showed up. He put on the spare and we were on our way in no time.”
    - Cynthia from Arnold, MD
  • “I was traveling from New York to Annapolis; my engine light went on in my Subaru. Within minutes your driver Paul showed up. He helped by calling a local Subaru dealer and we got it resolved. He was polite, courteous and helpful.”
    - Mary Barb from Binghamton, NY
  • “After a very long flight I was leaving BWI and got a flat tire. Don was there before I realized. He was fantastic! A life saver. The kind of professional experience needed after a long week.”
    - Anthony from Manassas, VA
  • “I got a flat tire on US 50 after coming off of the Bay Bridge. Dave in his big yellow truck showed up to fix our flat. My whole family is thankful for his assistance.”
    - Mini V from Mount Oliver, PA