Stranded students offered advice

By Kevin Lyons

It’s no secret that every weekend a mass exodus of NIU students fly down I-88 with intentions of getting home and back to school in time for Monday classes.

It’s also no secret that typically financially disadvantaged college students rely on some not-so-reliable vehicles and sometimes don’t get to their required destination. I was a victim of this tragic phenomena not so long ago.

I was stranded on I-88 with a blown engine and a bad temper. The Illinois State Police have some advice for any students caught in this predicament.

“Always stay with your vehicle, and if someone asks you if they can help, ask them to call the police for you.” That advice comes from State Trooper Todd Rohling from the Illinois State Police 2nd District, which is responsible for the rural stretch of I-88.

Rohling said stranded motorists should stand next to their vehicle and raise the hood, the universal sign of distress. He also said he thought “Help” signs are good items to keep in your vehicle.

“If you travel a lot you should really consider getting a cellular phone,” he said. “About 50 percent of the calls we receive come from the STAR 99 hotline.”

By dialing the star button and 99 on a cellular phone, motorists get a direct link with police.

“If possible, motorists should try to get to the right shoulder of the road and unless the vehicle is smoking they should stick very close by,” Rohling said.

Once the police are notified, they will contact a reputable towing agency if necessary, or possibly bring gas if the vehicle has run out.

If the motorist needs transportation, he or she maybe able to ride with the tow truck or a trooper will give him or her a ride to the nearest phone, Rohling said.

Rohling stressed the importance of not accepting rides from strangers under any circumstances. He suggested students should travel with others whenever possible.

“It’s always a good idea to travel together, especially at night,” Rohling said.