Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance insurance has a way of taking some of the “scary” out of traveling alone. It doesn’t solve everything. If you need a tire, the roadside assistance person will rescue your car, but you will have to pay for it. Insurance companies tend to limit the amount of mechanic work encouraged by the side of the road. With that said, it can take some of the scary parts out of commuting or dealing with your car if you have no mechanical inclination or if you lack the height, strength and tools to deal with the situation.

A Tale from the Past

The year was 1982. Most of us were familiar with mobile phones only as a comic routine from Get Smart, when Smart talks to his shoe. A young woman was driving down Highway 44 in Missouri in a giant boat of a vehicle, a rattle-trap old Buick that had dreadful gas mileage. It had balding tires, and she was worried about whether she had enough gas in the tank to make it all the way home. Not far outside Marshfield, she felt the telltale squishiness that signaled a flat tire. She pulled off on the shoulder of the road and sighed. She knew how to change a tire. She had a giant four-way wrench and a ratchet bumper jack as tools.

Big Buick, Small Woman, and even Smaller Boy

By holding one end of the four-way wrench and having her son jump on the other end, she managed to get the lug nuts loose. She then set about jacking up the behemoth vehicle. Of course, they were parked on a slope, and the jack wobbled precariously as she and her son hung on the jack handle, struggling to force the car up high enough to remove the flat.

One Big Truck

Just as she got the jack almost high enough, a semi-tractor/trailer drove by and blatted its horn at them. She jumped, and the jack wobbled out from under the bumper allowing the car to settle back on its now loosened flat tire. Fortunately, both she and her son were behind the car. The only harm was that now the jack had to be reset, and the jacking up process done all over again. She had just gotten the jack set when an older man in an SUV drove up. The trucker had sent a message out over his CB radio that there were a woman and small child trying to change a tire. In no time, the middle-aged man had the tire changed, and they were once more on their way. That was the roadside assistance of yesteryear.

Friend or Foe?

Fast forward in time to 2018 to a lonely roadside in Florida. A woman and her son are walking along the verge and a man stops offering them a ride. The woman accepts. The man strikes her, leaves her unconscious by the side of the road, and takes her son. It could have just as easily happened in 1982. You never know who might be traveling the highways.

Official Roadside Assistance

While it isn’t perfect, most roadside assistance companies will emblazon their logo on the side of their vehicle. The assistant will have paperwork from your insurance company and will probably be wearing a uniform. Chance met strangers who offer help are sometimes kindly, but they can also be a threat. If you are traveling alone and are on a lonely stretch of road, you don’t know which that good Samaritan might really be. If you’ve made the call and the person who shows up is from your insurance company, then you’ve got a chance that you are in good hands.