July 17, 2015

Roadside repair with flare

Many years ago I had a mobile repair business.  Getting called out in all hours of the day and night to the interstate was common.  When out on the road with a broken down vehicle, and cars and trucks speeding past just feet away from me, the reality of the danger I was in was ever present.

I tried various reflective markers, flashing signals, and of course I had a flashing yellow caution light on top of my service vehicle.  But no matter how bright, or attention getting my efforts were, those cars and trucks still sped by just feet away in the right hand lane next to the shoulder.

One day, at the parts store, I saw some plain old red flares.  Why not?  So I got a package and headed back to the open road.  As I turned on my flashers and my overhead caution light and parked in back of the stranded traveler, I grabbed the flares as I got out of my vehicle and lit one of them up and laid it down.

At first I thought I was being too aggressive by lighting up a flare to change a customer's blown tire.  But after watching every single vehicle move over into the other lane, I was made a believer.

A red roadside flare can be seen two miles away, even in the daytime.  Our instincts instantly tell us the bright red light is a fire.  Coming up on a flare we are more alert because our brains are still talking to us about fire. We don't want to get burned.  We move over into the other lane before we reach the flare.

Carry a package in your trunk.  You just never know when you will need them.  Your life is more valuable than the money you spent on those pyrotechnics.

Please use common sense with flares:  Very dry windy conditions make using flares a dangerous decision.  Be careful.

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