In Case Of Emergency: Been Seen With A Road I.D.

I was walking home from work last week when I came across a woman’s wallet laying in the gutter. I stopped in my tracks and looked around to see if I could spot the wallet’s potential owner, but there wasn’t a soul in sight. After waiting a minute or two, I finally picked up the wallet and took it home with me.

Once I got home, I opened it up and found that it was filled with credit cards, gift certificates, $300 in cash, and a whole host of receipts from various businesses in town. The woman’s driver’s license was inside and her address was listed on the ID. According to the license, she lived in Colorado – one state away (Not a trip I could simply make that evening).

I searched the wallet, trying to find a phone number to call so I could let her know that the wallet was safe and that she could pick it up at my house or I would gladly mail it back to her if she pleased. Unfortunately, there was no phone number to be be found, so I was left wondering what to do.

How was I supposed to let this woman know that I had found her wallet? How was I to know that the address on her driver’s license was even correct? I wasn’t sure what to do next.

Then I began to think about what would happen if I were to lose my own wallet. What if someone found it? Would they know where to send it? Would they know who to call?

I quickly grabbed my wallet and searched through it. Like the woman whose wallet I had just found, my address was listed on my driver’s license, but my phone number was nowhere to be found!

I quickly grabbed an index card, cut it down to the size of a credit card and scribbled a note upon it:

This wallet belongs to: Darren Alff
If found, please return to:
PO Box 982216
Park City, UT 84098

Then I listed my phone number, my parent’s phone number, and a friend’s phone number (just incase) and stuck the card in my wallet.

All of this got me thinking… “What would happen if I lost my computer? My Palm Pilot? My cell phone? My bicycle? Or any of my other possessions? Would the person who found my things know how to contact me and return the item?”

The answer was startling – “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

It was then that I took action! I gathered up every valuable item I had and marked it with my identification. My GPS… my computer… my bicycles… my car. Everything got identified.

Then I began to think about a question that I get asked a lot by others who are looking to do a bicycle tour: “What if you are by yourself and you get hit by a car or pass out and no one is around to help you?”

It’s a question I’ve thought about a lot over the years – especially since seven of my last eight bicycle tours have been solo adventures. It’s a topic of conversation that is often forgotten, but of great importance to us bicycle tourists.

“What would happen if you were hit by a car and the driver of that car stopped to help you, but couldn’t find the identification necessary to call your family and let them know what had happened?”

As I was pondering this question years ago, I came across an advertisement for a product called
Road I.D.

The concept of the Road I.D. is simple. It’s a Velcro bracelet that contains a dog tag with your name, address, phone number, and emergency information engraved upon it. In the event you are struck by a car, have an allergic reaction, or pass out in the middle of nowhere, those who come to your aid will be able to tell who you are, where you are from, who to contact, and what substances you might be allergic to.

It’s a terribly simple and lightweight device, but it’s potentially something that could save your life! And priced at just about $20.00, I think it’s more than a wise investment.

I first bought a Road I.D. years ago and wore it every time I left the house. It fit comfortably on my wrist and I forgot it was there most of the time.

But then, just a few months ago when I was out on a ride I noticed that I wasn’t wearing my Road I.D. As soon as I got home I searched my bags, my car, everything… but my Road I.D. was gone!

I went for a couple months without the ID, but after finding this woman’s wallet recently, I decided it was time to get a new one.

So I went to the website at and placed an order for a new wrist Road I.D. (There are a number of styles to choose from: One’s that you wear on your wrist, your ankle, your neck, or your shoe).

Three days later my Road I.D. came in the mail. It was packaged in a white bubble-protected envelope and strapped to a professionally designed cardboard plaque. It fit perfectly around my wrist and I’ve been wearing it ever since.

The reason I mention the Road I.D. today is because if you are thinking of doing a bicycle tour and are even the slightest bit concerned about traveling alone or having an accident out on the road, then you should put some serious thought into purchasing a Road I.D. for yourself. The investment is small and the pay-off could be huge! In fact, the Road I.D. might just save your life one day.

Basically, my Road I.D. says this:

HOME 555-555-5555 PRNTS
MOTHER 555-555-5555 SUSAN
NANCY 555-555-5555 FRND

(Line 3 says “NKA * NO MED HISTORY * 1983” which means, “No Known Allergies * No Medical History * 1983 (The year I was born))

You can customize your Road I.D. to say whatever you want and the website has a number of good tips on the type of information you should include. But basically, the information you want to include on your ID is the vital information that paramedics need to treat you on the scene and quickly inform your family and friends about your condition.

While you’re ordering your Road I.D., take a look at your other belongings and determine whether or not they are properly identified.

Is your phone number listed in your wallet? What if your bike were to get lost? Would the person who found it know who to return it to? What about your cell phone and your computer? Examine it all!

Before you leave on your next bike tour, conduct a thorough examination of your belongings and do what you can to identify your things.

You’re probably wondering what happened to that woman’s wallet, right?

Well, after finding a AAA membership card in her wallet, I called AAA, explained the situation, they called the woman (thus protecting her phone number) and told her that I had found her wallet… and she called me shortly thereafter to tell me she would come by my house to pick it up.

As it turned out, she didn’t live in Colorado afterall, but lived just a few short miles from my home. When she came by, I told her about the difficult time I had had finding her phone number. I showed her the card I had placed inside my wallet with my address and phone number listed upon it and she blushed as she admitted to me, “Yeah, that would have been a good idea.”

Update: January 24, 2008

Just one day after writing this article, I was walking into the Main Street Mall in downtown Park City, Utah when a man fell three stories off the roof of the building and landed no more than two feet away from me with a thud. I have no idea what he was doing up on the roof or how he fell, but he was bleeding profusely, likely suffering with a number of broken bones, and clearly unconscious. He was alive, but he wasn’t moving.

A crowd of people quickly gathered around, doing what they could to help the man stay warm and prevent him from doing further damage to himself. No one knew who this man was, where he was from, or whom he was with.

The police were there in no time and he was quickly escorted to the hospital. I never heard if he survived or what he was doing up on the roof in the first place, but it made me think once again about the importance of the Road I.D.

If you get in a situation where you can’t speak for yourself, you need to have something on your body that can do the speaking for you – and the Road I.D. is that product. If you haven’t yet purchased a Road I.D. for yourself, then I encourage you to get one right away.



0 thoughts on “In Case Of Emergency: Been Seen With A Road I.D.

  1. Susan Reed says:

    I’ve been a devotee of the Road ID for years. Never had to rely upon it, but it’s there, just in case. You might be interested in this site ( It seems a little safer to not have all your personal ID all over your stuff so not only can someone steal your stuff but your ID. So, something like this is the route I have chosen to go with bikes, phones, cameras, GPS, iPod’s, etc.

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