TAMPA — More than 2.1 million Floridians are forecast to take a road trip for Memorial Day (view AAA’s holiday travel forecast). Unfortunately, thousands of them will experience car trouble. Nationwide, AAA expects to rescue more than 483,000 stranded motorists, during the holiday weekend. The three most common reasons are flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts.
A recent AAA survey found that 52% of Floridians plan to get a professional vehicle inspection before their summer road trips. A fifth of drivers (19%) will conduct their own inspection. However, 21% of Floridians say they have no plans to get a vehicle inspection before hitting the road this summer.
“A properly maintained vehicle is critical for a successful and safe road trip,” said Mark Jenkins, Public Relations Manager for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We encourage all drivers to get a pre-trip inspection of their tires, battery, breaks, fluids, and other basics. This could help prevent a breakdown before it happens.”
• Safely pull over at the next exit or safe stopping point, if possible.
• If you must stop immediately, pull as far over on the shoulder as safely possible to create more distance between your vehicle and passing traffic.
• Turn your hazard lights on so other drivers are aware you are there.
• Call for assistance via phone, website or the AAA Mobile app.
• Remain with your vehicle as long as it’s safe to do so.
• If getting out of your vehicle, watch the oncoming traffic for a good time to exit, and remain alert and close to your vehicle. Avoid turning your back to traffic whenever possible.
• Check your tires – At minimum, AAA recommends checking your tires once a month and before taking a long trip. Pay special attention to both tire inflation pressure and tread depth. Be sure to inspect all four tires and the spare tire if your vehicle has one.
• Check your battery – The average car battery life is typically 3-5 years. If your engine is slow to start and/or your lights are dim, your battery may be nearing the end of its life. Visual signs of damage or corrosion are other indicators of deterioration. Drivers can ask for a battery check at a AAA Car Care Center or Approved Auto Repair Facility. AAA can also come to a member’s location to test and, if needed, replace the battery on site.
• Listen to and feel the brakes – If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection.
• Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner – Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them every 6-12 months. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, replace the blades.
• Top off engine oil and other fluids – Check that engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.
• Replenish emergency kit supplies – AAA recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.
AAA resources for your road trip:
• Search for AAA Approved Auto Repair Facilities near you.
• Use AAA’s Repair Cost Estimator to determine estimated repair costs, including parts, labor and a AAA member discount.
• Use AAA’s Gas Cost Calculator to determine the estimated fuel costs for your trip.
Preparing your vehicle is one thing. It’s also important that drivers are personally ready to focus on the road. AAA provides the following safe driving habits, as a reminder for drivers:
• Watch your speed – For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. Be sure to drive the speed limit and lower your speed if conditions warrant.
• Watch the road – Distracted drivers kill thousands of people every year. Taking eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Potential distractions include cell phone use, eating, drinking, or interacting with other passengers. Focusing on the road enables drivers to spot and avoid potential hazards that could otherwise lead to a crash.
• Rest up – Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. AAA recommends drivers get plenty of rest before a big road trip. During a drive, take breaks every 100 miles or two hours. Motorists should pull over if they find themselves getting tired.
• Drive Sober – Drugs and alcohol negatively impact the important brain functions needed for driving safely: judgement, motor skills, memory, and reaction time. AAA urges everyone to avoid driving after ingesting any substance that could impair their ability to drive.
Move over for roadside workers and stranded motorists:
“AAA’s roadside technicians will put their lives on the line to rescue the hundreds of thousands of drivers on the roadside with car trouble,” continued Jenkins. “We urge drivers to stay focused on the road and its shoulders. Whether it’s a first responder, tow truck or disabled vehicle, if you see flashing lights, move over so everyone can make it home safely for the holiday.”
Advice for drivers:
• Remain alert - Avoid distractions and focus on driving.
• Keep an eye out for emergency vehicles – including tow trucks – that have their lights on as well as cars that have their flashers on. Move over one lane when you see them, and if you can’t move over, slow down to safely pass them.
• Be a good passenger - Help identify roadway issues and remind the driver to slow down and move over.
• Watch for people on the roadside - People may be in or near a disabled vehicle. Just because you don’t immediately see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.