Panhandlers Target Drivers on I-30

People asking for money are risking their lives during rush hour traffic

They come out once traffic starts to slow down – people panhandling on Interstate 30 in Dallas.

Anywhere from one man to a small group can be seen during the morning rush every Monday through Friday patrolling along a thin strip of concrete median, shaking their cups and holding signs asking for help.

"It’s just crazy," homeless man Jesse Trevillian said. "Them people out there in the highway like that, it’s dangerous."

The men panhandle in the westbound lanes of I-30 in the area known as "the canyon," just south of Downtown Dallas.

Trevillian’s wife, Sharonda, told NBC 5 she was concerned for the safety of the men risking their lives for handouts.

"They be running over here, crossing the street. That is very dangerous," she said. "These cars can’t stop right there. There is no traffic light or whatever. And they're taking a chance on their life."

One of the men who can frequently be found asking for help on the highway is 30-year-old Christopher Johnson, who told NBC 5 he was a U.S. Marine from 2004 to 2014. He holds a cardboard sign that reads, "USMC Veteran. Anything Helps. God Bless."

Johnson showed off the military-style back a truck driver recently handed over from the driver's side window of his big rig. He also proudly flashed the $21 and change he collected that morning, enough to buy him a meal and cigarettes for the day. And to keep him from having to return the next morning.

"I know it's dangerous and everything, but it's less attraction," Johnson said. "More people are going to see me up here [on the city streets] than they are down there. You know, cop-wise."

Dallas police told NBCDFW they are working to put an end to the practice.

"We at Central are aware of the panhandlers frequenting this location during the hours of heavy traffic," said Deputy Chief John Lawton of the Dallas Police Department’s Central Patrol Division. "We provide patrols in this area daily due to our concern for the safety of the individuals that are panhandling at this location."

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