Pensacola, Florida
Friday December 19th 2014

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The Local—Woo-hoo! It’s A Blowout

By Dan Fugate

With a metro population approaching 500,000, there are a lot of people commuting in and around Pensacola. There are domestics, imports, luxury cars, exotic racers, SUVs, compacts and on and on. There is such an impressive variety.

Somehow, every class of vehicle is afflicted with the same defect–no turn signal switch. The fail rate seems to be around 12 percent of all turn signal switches; though no scientific data has been produced to substantiate the claim. This is such a danger. Another hazard for vehicles on the road is the roadside emergency.

Nearly every morning, along Interstate 10 and 110, someone is stranded in a car with a blown tire, overheated engine, or empty gas tank. The unfortunate sit as motorists zoom by, often unaware or unable to move into the opposite lane. For the stranded driver, this can be a scary situation. Imagine changing a driver’s side tire on the side of the interstate. Yeah, it’s that kind of scary. That’s why there’s roadside assistance insurance.

One morning, on the way downtown, I had a terrible blowout on my truck. “Damn it! I just cancelled roadside assistance last month.” I was just a few yards from exit 1B, but the tire had pretty much disintegrated and I was driving on a rim. I had no other choice but to pull onto the side of the overpass.

I got out and examined the situation, and then I called the office to let them know I’d be a bit late. We’ve all seen the videos of the guy beside his car who gets creamed by a truck that goes off the road or the one where the cop has to jump across the hood of the car, Dukes of Hazard-style, to avoid getting grilled. These were the images running through my head as I contemplated lying on the ground to get the spare out from under the truck.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before a state trooper pulled up behind me and told me help was on the way. I didn’t know it, and I’m guessing many of you don’t either, but the Florida Department of Transportation has a program to help in situations just like this. Enter the Road Rangers!

The Road Rangers is a service patrol that provides free service to stranded motorists. Beginning in 1999, the program originally was intended to aid on construction sites, but soon grew to respond to all types of incidents and has become an effective branch of FDOT’s service. They help clear traffic lanes, help with tire changes, provide fuel, and help with several other minor repairs.

The program has resulted in a reduction in accidents and congestion, and an increase in safety at accident or trouble sites. The rolling auto shops have most everything needed to help get a person back on the road. That is, unless a wrecker is needed.

I know I’ll not be adding roadside assistance back to my insurance as nearly all of my driving is done on Florida’s interstates. I’ll be dialing *FHP instead.