BECKLEY, W.Va. — The West Virginia Parkways Authority has announced an agreement with the State Farm insurance company, in which the insurer will become the official sponsor of the WVPA’s Courtesy Patrol roadside service.

Gov. Jim Justice, West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Byrd White, and Parkways Authority Marketing Director Matthew Coleman attended the announcement Tuesday at Tamarack near Beckley. In addition to being a new source of revenue, Justice predicted State Farm’s involvement in highway safety will be an asset for West Virginia, as he anticipates the number the of in-state and out-of-state motorists using the Turnpike will continue to increase, year-to-year.

“With all of our recent investments in our tourism industry and after offering the people of West Virginia a major discount on E-ZPass transponders, my goal is to have people from all over using the Turnpike every day to explore our great state. And so, the safety and well-being of these motorists absolutely must be our top priority,” he said. “That’s why we’re excited to work with a quality company like State Farm so we can make our safety patrol services better than ever and give peace of mind to everyone traveling through our great state as they search for their next adventure in West Virginia.”

White said the idea of a sponsorship had been under consideration for several months, and proposals from several companies were considered before a final decision was agreed upon by the Department of Transportation and the Parkways Authority Board.

“After evaluating the proposals, State Farm was just head and shoulders above the rest of them. It was a real, real easy choice,” said White.

The insurance company will not be involved either in the hiring of personnel or in day-to-day patrol operations, which are functions of the Parkways Authority.

The patrol service, which will be renamed “WV Turnpike State Farm Safety Patrol,” is free to motorists and operates on a year-round schedule, providing assistance to stranded drivers dealing with issues such as flat tires, jump starts, low oil, low water, contacting tow trucks, and minor engine malfunctions. Patrol workers also maintain traffic flow during accidents, assist with debris removal from roadways, and communicate with law enforcement agencies regarding incidents. Disabled motorists can dial *SP to notify a safety patrol unit that assistance is needed.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, highway service patrols are among the most cost-effective programs for reducing incident-causing congestion and associated accidents and injuries.

State Farm, which is the largest provider of auto insurance in the United States, sponsors similar highway safety patrol programs in 19 other states, and becomes the first company to sponsor a state service in West Virginia.