Roman: ‘Duct tape of death’ adds some life to busted-up car involved in traffic collision


Last week I was at a traffic collision where a tow truck changed lanes and hit a car. When I got there the ambulance was leaving with the car’s passenger.

The vehicles were in the middle of the street and there was glass all over the place. I think the tow truck driver felt guilty because he was sweeping up the glass faster than I’ve ever seen it done before.

“I bought the car four days ago,” the man from the car said.

The man’s car was red and had paper plates. Both passenger side windows were shattered and both doors were damaged. The right front door was even missing a door handle. To add insult to injury, the ambulance had just driven away with his wife.

The man stood there looking at his car as he wondered what to do. He walked up to the passenger door and tried to close it. He slammed the door shut and it just bounced back like a ball because it wouldn’t stay closed.

“What am I going to do?”

“Well, you can’t drive it like that,” I said.

I then had an idea as I walked toward my patrol car. I carry duct tape with me in my traffic gear bag. The duct tape is for when I have to tape down a 300-foot tape measure in the street when I have a fatal accident. I actually call it the “duct tape of death” because it only comes out when something really bad happens.

I walked back up to the driver and showed him the duct tape as I asked, “Want to tape the door shut?”

He gave me a funny look and took the tape. He then got to work on his car. When he was done he drove away with a duct tape band-aid on his car. I just didn’t tell him I call it “The duct tape of death,” though. I figured he didn’t need to know that.

Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415. His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for more than 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. shares some of his columns.