By Gino Zamparo

There’s some rhythm to it yet no rhyme. The sound is somewhat onomatopoetic. A thump, a thump, a vwomp, a thump thump thump, another vwomp, more frequent thumps and vwomps and then thump thump thump thump vwomp thump thump vwomp. Then the vibration that started early in the

“thumping” phase becomes more regular and more vibratory. Next—and here’s the hint—the steering wheel becomes an entity unto itself, or under the control of the offending situation, not you. Aha! The car has a flat tire, you realize. Slow down from 65 mph to a crawl, flashers on, pull onto shoulder. Other vehicles flying by at high speeds, darkness, cold, middle of nowhere. Well, not totally nowhere. New York State Thruway, mile marker 54.5, en route from Andes, NY to NYC. YIKES!

Here’s the thing, and yes it is a “thing” and my PSA. The NYS Thruway is a “restricted zone” when it comes to summoning for roadside assistance from AAA or your car’s roadside assistance plan. Here’s what that means. You can call AAA (or your car’s roadside assistance plan) and they can help you reach the NYS Thruway Authority, but they can’t send help. The assisting service must be NYS Thruway Authority approved and they will come and help you with your flat. Doesn’t sound too bad. If you need a tow though (ah, there’s a rhyme) the NYS Thruway approved towing service will tow you off the Thruway, but only within a limited distance from the Thruway exit, within their “restricted zone.” You and your car will be “dumped” in a parking lot or anywhere within the “restricted zone,” bordering the non-restricted zone. (For these zones, you don’t need a Passport!) It is then, now at the “frontier” of these zones and officially in either, you can call AAA again and tell them that you are no longer in a restricted zone and then another tow truck, AAA approved, will come get you and your car and tow you to a mechanic.

Wouldn’t it be easier if tow trucks could be approved for both the NYS Thruway restricted zone and the unrestricted zone?! One of the tow guys said there are some towing services which have that approval but that it’s a “NY State thing” and how a service is approved, or not, is a mystery….Agatha!

P.S. Part 2: Make sure your car comes with a spare tire or “donut.”~