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Roadside Assistance


Car problems always seem to happen at the worst time and in the worst places: late at night, when its raining or snowing, on a road where the last house was one you saw ten minutes ago, ten miles from the nearest gas station, etc. You can be best prepared for these unexpected situations by joining an automobile club. Then help is only a cell phone call away.


If you run out of gas on a highway in the Finger Lakes, you have two options. Call your roadside assistance provider (AAA is an example) or stick out your thumb. There are, unfortunately, no services that are designed specifically to help with small roadside problems. In a rural area, you might consider stopping at someone's house and asking if they have some extra lawnmower gas, just enough to get you to the nearest gas station. This is not an uncommon thing to do and people don't expect to be compensated for providing you with gas. The same situation applies to flat tires, overheating radiators, and broken hoses and belts. You can try to call a towing service, but if you don't have a telephone directory, you may not know who to call. Calling the police is usually of little help.


Many, but not all, counties have 911 service where you dial 911 on the phone and are immediately connected to someone who says, "This is 911. What is your emergency?" You will be expected to tell the dispatcher the situation and where you are. On state highways, there are mile markers along the edge of the road. The first set of numbers on the marker is the number of the highway, the second set is the mile marker that tells the officer where you are. If you can say, "I'm about a half a mile south of mile marker 3808 in the southbound lane of Rt. 81," that can be very helpful and save precious time. You may also need the mile marker for an insurance report if the matter involves a collision.


If you aren't on a state highway, it may be helpful to flag down someone who can tell you where you are and give you advice as to how to deal with the situation. Many people will stop voluntarily and ask you if you need help.


If the county isn't covered by 911 service, you may be routed to the police, who can also help you. It helps if you know where you are or at least if you are on a state, county, town, or city roadway as the police services provided are dependent on the type of road you're on. The New York State Police generally patrol state highways, the county sheriff's department usually patrols county and town roads, and the city police department covers city streets. If 911 service is provided in a county, you will be routed into the 911 system and don't have to worry what type of road you're on.


Above all, try to stay calm.


If you hit a deer, call 911 or the sheriff immediately, even if the deer is dead. Report any human injuries. Try to determine if the deer is still alive and tell the dispatcher if it is. Be emotionally prepared because many deer are very much alive, having been clipped at the knees. They may have multiple broken legs, but otherwise be alright. Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine is the only facility in the region that accepts injured deer. However, the transportation of deer can be dangerous for you and for the deer as their temperaments usually don't tolerate close human contact. A police officer can assess the situation and dispatch the deer, if need be. The officer can also fill out an necessary insurance reports.


If you hit a horse, dog, cat, or any animal that would be classified as "cattle," you are obligated by state law to make an attempt to find the owner. If you can't find the owner, you must report the matter to the police. In addition, you are obligate to "take any other reasonable and appropriate action so that the animal may have necessary attention."








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