There is one of those ‘a friend of a friend’ forwarded emails going around right now that talks about how you can and should dial *47 (‘star 47′) if you are on the road, anywhere in the country, and have a dangerous situation or emergency, and it will connect you to the local highway patrol – and how it supposedly saved the life of a woman named Lauren who was being flagged down by a convicted rapist pretending to be a policeman. (47 = HP, as in Highway Patrol.) There is, in fact, a kernal of truth to this, as in a handful of states you can dial *47 and reach highway patrol, however it is not true that you can do so in all 50 states. Read on to learn in which states you can dial * 47, and also what other emergency highway patrol shortcut numbers you can dial in other states.
Here is the letter which is making the rounds – below the copy of the email is the list of various * codes you can dial to reach emergency highway patrol:
“I knew about the red light on cars, but not the *47. It was about 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend. An UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put his lights on. Lauren’s parents have always told her never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather to wait until they get to a gas station, etc.
Lauren had actually listened to her parents advice, and promptly called *47 on her cell phone to tell the police dispatcher that she would not pull over right away. She proceeded to tell the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his roof top behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren’t, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back up already on the way.
Ten minutes later 4 cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
I never knew about the *47 Cell Phone Feature, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you should not pull over for an unmarked car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a safe place.
*Speaking to a service representative at ** Bell ** Mobility confirmed that *47 is a direct link to State trooper info. So, now it’s your turn to let your friends know about*47.
Send this to every woman (and person) you know; it may save a life. This applies to ALL 50 states”
Ok, now in reality, this does not apply to all 50 states! While it is true that several states have set up special numbers that you can dial from your cell phone, preceded by a star (i.e. the * – the asterisk button on your cell phone), only a few of them use “*47″. The 47 is supposed to be easy to remember, as it corresponds to H and P, so *HP for ‘Highway Patrol’.
However, the only states that have *47 set for ‘speed dial’ to Highway Patrol, at the time of this writing, are Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Oh, and you can dial *HP in Kansas, but only in Salina. In Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma you can dial *55 to reach the highway patrol. And in Maine, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire you can call *SP, while in Maryland and Virginia you can dial #SP (pound SP, instead of star SP), and in Massachusetts you can dial *SP if you are in the 413 area code, but in the 617 area code you must dial *MSP. In Pennsylvania and Utah you can dial *11. Colorado has *CSP set up to call the Colorado Highway Patrol, Georgia has *GSP, and Idaho has *ISP, while Florida has *FHP, Nevada has *NHP, and Tennessee has *THP (and Louisiana has *LHP unless you are on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, in which case it’s *27). Finally, in Illinois you can dial *999, in Texas *DPS, in Vermont *DWI, in New Jersey #77 and in Wyoming #HELP (note that the last two are #, not *).
So, as you can see, it is not only not true that you can dial *47 (or indeed any one set of numbers) in all 50 states, but it is the case that there are many, many different special numbers to dial to reach highway patrol in the various states.
The most important thing to get out of this – the most important thing to remember – is that in all states, you can dial 911 and, if it’s an emergency, that is exactly what you should do.*[*Note: We are very grateful to Susan (not her real name) of the Colorado Highway Patrol (*CSP) for confirming the above information - particularly about calling 911.]
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