ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Emergency call boxes installed along the Atlantic City Expressway nearly 20 years ago will soon be disconnected.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the highway, said crews will start removing the boxes Monday and replace them with road signs that provide drivers with a telephone number to call for assistance.

The project is expected to take about 90 days to complete.

SJTA officials said the decision to remove the call boxes was made because the technology that powers them has become obsolete and most drivers now have personal cell phones. They also fear drivers may mistakenly believe the call boxes are equipped for voice communication.

The call boxes do not contain telephones — users instead pull down a lever and then push a button labeled “police” or “service,” which activates an electric motor to send out a radio transmission for help. That signal is received as an alarm by a dispatch center, which sends back an acknowledgment code that is heard by the user as an audible beep.

SJTA officials also noted a recent study found that the call boxes are often used in conjunction with a cell phone call about the same incident, often leading to confusion and duplicated assistance efforts.

Call boxes are located every mile on the 47-mile highway, which runs from Turnersville to Atlantic City.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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