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Out of gas: Drivers are calling NCDOT for help because they're on empty

As gas prices continue to surge, NCDOT data shows requests for roadside assistance from the state hotline more than doubled in the first six months of 2022.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Drivers on North Carolina highways and interstates have called the state hotline for help with a tank of gas more often in the first six months of 2022 than they did compared to all of 2021.

According to data provided to WCNC Charlotte by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, between January and May 2022, 273 drivers called North Carolina's Incident Management Assistance Program (IMAP) because they ran out of gas.

During that same time frame in 2021, just 100 drivers asked for help because they were out of gas.

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Credit: WCNC

One factor forcing drivers to go past 'E' in their vehicles is record-high gas prices. The average price for a gallon of gas in North Carolina is now $4.66.

IMAP has been around since the 1990s, according to Jen Thompson with the DOT. She said drivers don't only help out with gas-related emergencies on state highways and interstates, but other calls as well.

"These are the same drivers that you see responding to incidents like a crash that closes the road or a call for debris," Thompson said. "Basically, their purpose is to keep traffic flowing, keep lanes open, keep the roadway clear and passable and safe."

Thompson said when someone calls IMAP for help because they ran out of gas, an NCDOT driver will fill the motorist's tank with a gallon of gas, "enough to make it to the next exit off the highway and to the service station."

NCDOT keeps a record of the make, model, and tag on vehicles helped by their drivers as well.

"In the past, there have been some issues and we have taken note of violators," Thompson said. "So we just want to reiterate that, you know, our folks are out there just to kind of help keep folks moving, not to give you a free tank of gas."

Calling for IMAP's help doesn't cost anything to the driver. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

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