My book (cover shown above) is now published through Amazon (Print and Kindle): Order Here and through Barnes & Noble (Print and NOOK: Order Here). Print version is also available through Quail Ridge Books (in Raleigh): Order Here.
Why did I start doing roadside assists, and why do I still do them?
In 1980, I gave a jump start to a lady whose car engine had died. It was Christmas season and two things hit me between the eyes: 1) How relieved she was to be back on the road, and 2) How great I felt having assisted her. That feeling is wonderful and addicting. I can make any good day better by performing a roadside assist. For me, the rush begins when I first see a disabled vehicle, and the feeling lasts for hours after I am done.
Why did I write the book, “Roadside Survival: Low-Tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdowns” and set up this website?
After performing well over 2,000 roadside assists free-of-charge over the years as a hobby, I realized that I could never be on site for the millions of motorists who break down. So, I figured that the best way to “spread my gospel” to empower drivers to prevent and contend with vehicle breakdowns would be to write a book and set up this website. I also realized that driver education programs and law enforcement agencies could benefit from my material.
These TV segments introduce my gospel and the book:
Endorsement by “AskPatty.com, Automotive Advice for Women“: (Click here)
Why read this book?
Two hundred million licensed motor vehicle drivers in the United States expose themselves routinely to significant risk of becoming stranded when they drive. There are two kinds of drivers: 1) those who have experienced a disabled vehicle (and will again), and 2) those who will for the first time. Drivers can decrease the chances that they will have a break down and become stranded. This subject may seem dry and boring – – until you have experienced being stranded and vulnerable to whims of anyone who comes along. Each year AAA responds to 30 million calls for help from stranded motorists, this is only a fraction of the total. Some folks learn only by experiencing inconvenience, embarrassment, and potentially serious risks. Others make the proactive choice to learn how to prevent problems and the methods to counteract them should they occur. This book provides you with the opportunity to avoid the negatives associated with becoming stranded (including no bathroom, no water, no food, too cold, too hot, darkness, and encountering predators).
Why not just call commercial roadside assistance?
Some folks ask, “Why should I worry about breakdowns? I’ll just call for XYZ commercial roadside assistance.” I don’t knock these assist companies. I can confirm that they usually provide good service in places where they use their own people and equipment, although they’re not always timely. Problems occur with breakdowns away from their offices where they often subcontract the work to third-stringers who are incompetent. I have seen a lot of this, especially on weekends, holidays, and at night. But why not focus on preventing breakdowns in the first place?
If you know someone (wife, husband, daughter, son, friend, even yourself) who drives and would benefit from being able to: 1) prevent breaking down, and 2) rescue himself from situations most likely to otherwise render him stranded, this book is what the doctor ordered. Generally, good luck comes to those who help themselves; this book is for those in that group. If you would like to change the mind of someone currently not in that group, send him a copy of this book and insist he read it. Some drivers live in denial that they could break down; this book can help them see otherwise and show them how to prevent, prepare for and contend with that eventuality. Is there a driver who would not benefit from this book and website?
I am not a mechanic, and most vehicle breakdowns do not require a mechanic. My solutions are simple, low tech, easily understood, and enable a driver of a disabled vehicle to drive it off an interstate highway or parking lot, to a facility which can fix the problem, or so that the motorist can obtain items needed to prevent recurrence. They are not meant to be permanent repairs.
What are the most common reasons for vehicle breakdowns?
By far the most common reasons for becoming stranded are tire-related: 75 % of my assists. Discussion of several tire-related reasons follows the chapter on safety.
The remaining 25 % of breakdowns are split roughly equally among the following reasons, which I cover in separate chapters:
– Out of gas
– Engine overheats
– Engine cuts off and will not re-start, usually due to loose battery connection or dead or weak battery
– Motorist is locked out of vehicle
Anecdotes from actual assists, several humorous, introduce, illustrate and reinforce concepts and techniques.
Images on the “Selections from Book” page of this website provide snapshots of the book’s content, which includes some 56 pictures and illustrations with captions. The print, Kindle, and eBook versions are in black-and-white.
I hope the book also inspires readers to help others, but only if one is inclined to accept the inherent risks. It’s not for everyone! Check out the “Win-Win Hobby” chapter. Along the way, helpers help themselves.
I’m always willing to learn more from you. Together, we can help each other. So I ask for your questions and contributions using the blog page.
The Midwest Book Review has included the book in their June, 2015, edition: Click Here.
Read what others who have read it have to say: Click Here.
Check out the other pages of this website; don’t forget to check the “Links” page and sample its offerings, including radio and TV appearances. Also, on the “Links” page, scan the accounts of some actual assists I have made. Leave a comment on the blog page. Then do yourself, and your friends and loved ones who drive, a huge favor: Click Here, Here, or Here.
A great way to reach drivers is through driver education programs, so I began speaking to driver education conferences around the country and developed a separate website page specifically for that. Several driver education programs use my book, and the other many resources available on the driver education website page,”Roadside Survival for Driver Education” include the PowerPoint file I have used for several presentations at driver education conferences around the country. This file is an excellent summary of the book, and it is available for use free by all Driver Education teachers. Click here to see attachment.
Law Enforcement Applications
Website page, “Roadside Assisting by Law Enforcement Officers“, empowers law enforcement officers, especially in light of increasing, ominous distrust of police arising from recent ugly incidents in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Tulsa, and Minneapolis – to perform safe, simple, quick low-risk assists (only tire changes and bringing gas to a vehicle out of fuel – and only when operational priorities allow) for members of communities they serve and protect – with the agenda to win hearts and minds in these communities; also to enhance officer morale via positive therapeutic effects of performing roadside assists. Available on that page is a free 50-minute training video I produced which summarizes the book and provides several pro-active measures police can use.
I will guarantee that any law enforcement agency can improve its assist program by using my methods.
My unique book, “Roadside Survival: Low-Tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdowns”, is the foundation for all of this. Reaching out to individual drivers, driver education programs, and law enforcement agencies is one way I continue to serve and give back to a society which has treated me and my family very well.
With onset of widespread snow and ice in January, 2016, I prepared a 2-page listing of “Winter Driving Tips” which just could be an outline for a chapter in the future. Click to see attachment: Winter Driving Tips
BTW, here’s a tip not yet in my book or video, but which I have used several times: Sometimes, especially with flat tires on sporty cars, sedans, and some minivans, there will not be enough clearance between the vehicle’s lift point and the ground to insert the jack, whether or not a piece of plywood is needed to stabilize the jack. The lift points are behind front wheels and in front of rear wheels. My low-tech solution: for a flat front tire, before loosening the lug nuts, place some lumber (2″ – 4″ thick) just in front of the flat and have the driver move his vehicle about a foot forward and up on to the lumber (for a flat rear tire, place the lumber behind the tire and roll backward and up on to the lumber). I have done this at least 20 times. The same approach works with trailers and campers.
“Knowledge is Strength”… Don’t be a victim; make your own good luck!
Walt Brinker, Retired US Army infantry lieutenant colonel, Vietnam War veteran