SIDNEY — Do you know what you should do if you are involved in a car crash? Or you experience car trouble? Or your vehicle slides off the road during an ice or snow storm?
“There are all kinds of roadside assistance available for drivers,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart. He cites such agencies as AAA, AARP, OnStar and insurance companies such as State Farm as being good resources for drivers if they experience problems.
“If you need a wrecker, they can get those for you,” said Lenhart. “The agencies have screened the wrecker companies and they know they are sending honest people to help you.”
Lenhart said the Sheriff’s Office is also available if you have problems. Deputies will be the ones writing the report if a driver is involved in a crash on county roads.
He said there are some simple guidelines drivers should follow if they need assistance. The tips include:
• Note your locations. “Sometimes we get a call and they don’t know where they are,” said Lenhart. “The phone’s GPS helps us but the driver should be aware of their surroundings. They should know if they are between towns; have they just passed a business; what direction are they traveling.
• Watch for warning signs. “If you hear unusual noises from your car, see steam coming from the engine or run out of gas, pull off the road into a safe place,” said Lenhart. “Get as far off to the right of the road as you can. Call in right away and identify your problems. If you have a flat tire, drive a little more to get off on a safe spot.
“If you can’t pull off, put your flashers on right away,” he said. “Don’t put yourself at personal risk, but if you are able, push the car off the road.”
• Know what kind of assistance you need. “There are all kinds of tows,” said Lenhart. “If it’s a general problem — the vehicle has a bad tire, no gas or you’ve been involved in a fender bender — let whoever you’re calling know so the tower will know what to expect.”
• Alert other drivers. “Get your flashers on,” said Lenhart. “If you can, raise the hood of your car. Attach a cloth to your antenna. That’s a universal sign that something’s wrong. A truck may have flares and the driver will put them out several feet behind the vehicle.”
• Stay in your vehicle. “Stay in your vehicle if at all possible,” said Lenhart. “You’ll be much safer if you stay in your vehicle than you will be walking around. But if you see a fire, sparks or smell gas, get out of the vehicle.
“If you have to exit the vehicle, do it from the passenger side and not the driver’s side where traffic will be passing you.”
• Communication. “Communicate with law enforcement,” said Lenhart. “Call 911 and the sheriff or city police will send help. Ask them for a timetable of when help will arrive. If you call a wrecker company, find out when they will be there.”
• More information. “If you call for roadside assistance, they will ask you what type of vehicle your have and the number of people in the vehicle,” said Lenhart. “They’ll ask you lots of questions. They may also ask for a credit card number. don’t hesitate to give it to them as they’ll be towing you from the scene.”
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.