Call Boxes

call box on the 215SANBAG is the Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (SAFE) for San Bernardino County and is responsible for the development and implementation of call boxes along most State, Interstates and US Highways.

While using county highways and freeways, motorists may use the call boxes to call for help when they:

  • Have a flat tire
  • Experience mechanical failure
  • Are in an accident
  • Experience other problems

As one of the largest call box providers in the country, San Bernardino County is home to about 1,300 call boxes, which have assisted more than 1.6 million motorists since 1990.

  • What is a Call Box?
  • When to Use Them
  • How to Use Them
  • Additional Info

Man using a call boxEach call box is a battery-powered, solar-charged roadside cellular telephone. Call boxes are easy to spot (bright yellow box on an aluminum post with a royal blue identifying sign) and are conveniently located next to highways and freeways. Call boxes are usually placed in pairs across from each other approximately  one mile apart in urban areas, with greater spacing in rural areas.

The system of call boxes is operated in close coordination with both the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). A professional Call Answering Center answers the call box calls, transfers them when appropriate, and public safety assistance such as law enforcement, paramedic and fire control are dispatched by the California Highway Patrol when needed.

Who Pays for Them?

Motorists living in San Bernardino County pay for call boxes within the county. The California Department of Motor Vehicles collects the annual $1 vehicle registration fee from vehicles registered in San Bernardino County and forwards the proceeds to SANBAG for use in maintaining and operating the Call Box program.

For more information about the San Bernardino County Call Box Program, call SANBAG at (909) 884-8276 or email

Woman using a call boxA call box is a communication device that can assist in summoning aid when most needed:

  • To report an accident or crime for investigation by the California Highway Patrol
  • To report injuries from accidents or other causes for paramedic response
  • To report a vehicular or roadside fire for response by the nearest fire department
  • To report hazards in the road or unsafe conditions
  • To request towing or other assistance when a vehicle stops working, has a flat tire or runs out of fuel

inside of call boxCall boxes in San Bernardino County operate on a digital cellular signal. Because each call box is equipped with a large antenna, and is powered by solar energy, the boxes have a reliable power source and can pick up a cellular signal in areas where consumer cell phones cannot get a signal. 

All call boxes in San Bernardino County are equipped with instructions inside the call box, explaining how to use the call box. Call boxes are simple to use:

  1. Open the box, pick up the phone handset and press the red button one time.
  2. When an operator answers, he/she will ask you a series of questions.
  3. If you have roadside assistance or other pertinent information (rental car information), have that paperwork with you at the call box when you make the call.
  4. When you are finished, place the phone handset back into the cradle and close the call box’s front door.
  5. Call Boxes in the rural portion of the County, are now equipped with a Tele Type device (TTY) to assist those motorists that have difficulty hearing or speaking. Please follow the instructions on the call box for use of this device.  The entire network of call boxes in San Bernardino County will have TTY devices installed on them by June 30, 2011.

For more information about the San Bernardino County Call Box Program, contact Nikki Miller:
Phone: (909) 884-8276
Fax:     (909) 885-4407

For information on other call box programs within California, go to California Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies.

SANBAG Contact

Nicole Soto
Air Quality and Mobility Programs Specialist
Phone: (909) 884-8276
Fax:     (909) 885-4407