Recently, a friend of mine nearly lost his leg, a result of a texting while driving moron who drove her car directly into him, pinning his leg between her car and a tow truck. The tow truck was recovering his vehicle on a residential street and was ablaze with flashing warning lights, the speed limit was 35. Yet the driver of the car had her eyes buried in her phone and not on the road.  She almost cost him his life, and most terrible in timing, is that he had gotten engaged only a few hours prior to being partially crushed; nearly to death. Luck just happened to be on his side as another friend was on the scene, who used his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Thus, buying enough time for the ambulance to arrive and to save his life.

My confidence in providing this list, and in relevance to SOFREP comes from my many adventures abroad in recent years. I’m also drawing upon eleven years of active duty and in the company of my fellow Sappers where we operated abroad in our modern warfare role as counter-improvised-explosive-device mitigators, or IED hunters. We cleared the way and in that capacity, while driving, many of our vehicles were of destroyed or disabled which often left us at our own wits to recover our vehicles. Beyond that, as I, unfortunately, can no longer simply use C4 to shape a bumper for improvised towing in this world, yet I have encountered more than my fair share of roadside incidents. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on many roads around the world, and once drove a Chevrolet Silverado from Bavarian Germany to Bucharest, Romania and back. Another time I successfully drove a BMW 5 series through a flood which was seeping into the car while in northern Croatia. Along with many other odd rides, including my recent solo trip along the full expanse of the U.S. – Mexican border.

These adventures and my friend’s incident, along with the fact that I’m essentially piecemealing a used car together, as are a lot of folks these days – new cars are a luxury many of us can only dream to afford. Albeit, in an effort to provide not only a cautionary tale but some very helpful, realistic, and detailed information far beyond the many lame internet lists; my objective is to provide you with a reliable list of, in vehicle materials, along with the safest and easiest way to use them to avoid trouble. That is, beyond the need for these items, but the actual use for when your vehicle is disabled on the side of the road from an accident, flat tire, inclement weather, mechanical issues, or even the occasional roadside bomb detonation.

I put this list together with relevance, real need, and sound explanation. Even so, some of these things at first glance you may know and use, while others are often ignored or unknown. I also ask that you please excuse the fact that I’m not taking photos of my car, which is in the midst of total brake line replacement.

1. On the road, safety is first

The first thing you want to do if disabled for any reason on the road is to get your vehicle out of the flow of traffic while turning on your hazard lights. Once you’ve cleared traffic, then safely exit your vehicle. Whenever possible exit your vehicle through the door that is facing away from traffic and get behind the guardrail, barrier, or if need be, away from your vehicle a bit. This is a preventative measure against other drivers. The reasoning behind this is that people, for some reason are drawn towards disabled vehicles like months to a flame. These people are primarily nosy rubberneckers who have zero intent to help you, but will in their dangerous ways either swipe or directly strike your vehicle. I encourage you to ask an emergency services first-responder or vehicle maintenance employee and they will always have at least one story of a vehicle leaving traffic and striking the responding vehicle which is lit up like a Christmas tree or in the worse case, the responder. A summary internet search will also provide multiple cases of these instances.