Running on Empty: High gas prices lead to more stranded motorists, TDOT says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As gas prices continue to rise, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) said more people are letting their tanks run on empty.

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, the department is preparing to help people who run out of fuel.

“It’s a big difference in the gas prices,” Belivia Milligan of Memphis said. “Trying to maintain everyday life and gas, on a fixed income.”

Milligan is planning to visit friends in Dallas this weekend. Because of the high cost of fuel, she needed a budget-friendly way to do it.

“I’m riding with friends. We’re kind of dividing it up evenly so it won’t be so much,” she said.

The high prices mean more people are altering their Memorial Day weekend plans and waiting longer to fill up their tanks.

As a result, the Tennessee Department of Transportation said they’re seeing more people broken down on the roads.

“Last April in 2021, we had 179 stops. That’s more than doubled this year. We’ve had over 325 stops in April 2022,” Nichole Lawrence with TDOT said.

Lawrence said all of those calls were from stranded motorists who had run out of gas. She said it’s becoming a safety issue.

“Anytime there is something stopped on the side of the road, yes, that does cause a little bit of a hazard,” she said.

If you do run out of fuel on an interstate in Shelby County, Lawrence said TDOT will bring you a free gallon and help you get to the next exit. However, she said this should be a last resort.

“I know it’s hard times on everyone, but make sure you have enough gas to get to point A to point B,” she said.

If you find yourself broken down in Shelby County, you can call *847, and within minutes, a TDOT worker will deliver you a free gallon of gas.