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Call Box Program 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.

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