Driving 101: Changing Flat Tires and Not Running Out of Gas
Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Michigan State Police discusses the importance of driver's knowing how to change tires and watch their fuel gauges.
I’m back from vacation and full of vim, vigor and vitality. I needed all three on my first day back to work, which turned into a 17-hour work day thanks to an overturned semi. Still, I’m glad to be back to work and making a contribution to life.
I hope you are able to take time and enjoy our summer. You don’t have to travel far to find something to do or see in southeast Michigan. We have great parks to visit or camp in, a plethora of festivals and fairs and many cultural institutions and events. Many locations are within a half a tank of gas and it’s not like we’ve had too much rain. Take a little time and enjoy the summer and Michigan.
Do you know how to change a flat tire? Have you ever run out of gas?
I ask these questions, because every day, Troopers, deputies and police officers stop to check on drivers whose car has run out of gas or has a flat tire - and that driver doesn’t know how to change the tire on their car. Don’t start snickering because you think it’s the woman who doesn’t know how to change a tire or ran out of gas, because it’s not. In my experience, it’s about equal men and women who don’t know how to change a flat tire or run out of gas.
Those of us who do know how to change a tire know it’s not rocket science. As for running out of gas, really, how hard is it to look at the gas gauge?
Parents, if your teenage driver doesn’t know how to change the tire on the vehicle they are driving, I encourage you to teach them. If you don’t know how to change a tire, talk to a friend or the mechanic who services your vehicle, and ask them to show you and your teenager. There has been more than one occasion when I came upon a driver with a flat tire and I conducted a roadside course in how to change a vehicle tire.
There are not many good reasons for a driver to run out of gas, and my gas gauge is broke is not one of them.
My daughter Megan had an “out of gas experience” while traveling on US-127 on her way back to college in Alma, Michigan. As I recall, her story was she was driving and the car just stopped running. She had a tow truck tow the vehicle to Alma, which wasn’t cheap.
The next day her grandpa, who is always a knight in shining armor, drove to Alma to check the car out. Grandpa’s are pretty smart people and he looked at the gas gauge, put a little gas in the car and wah-la the car starts. Grandpa filled the car with gas and took Megan to breakfast where one of the topics of discussion was her vehicle’s gas gauge.
I doubt if anyone has had a flat tire or run out of gas at a convenient time. Those pesky things occur in the rain, snow, late at night or during a very hot day. It may be sometime before a Trooper or tow truck can come to your location and assist you.
I did not choose these topics because police officers don’t want to change tires or help drivers get gas. Police officers don’t mind changing a tire for those who truly can’t help themselves or take a driver to a gas station.
It’s a safety issue. The less time a disabled vehicle is a distraction to other drivers the safer it is for all drivers
Drivers should also avoid being at the mercy of someone who can do something, like change a tire or put gas in a car, which all drivers should be able to do themselves.
“I may be a living legend, but that sure don't help when I've got to change a flat tire” - Roy Orbison
If you have questions or comments please email them to email@example.com, or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4803 S. Old US-23, Brighton, MI 48114