TAMPA — AAA forecasts more than 2.4 million Floridians will take a road trip during the Independence Day holiday weekend. Unfortunately, thousands of them will experience car trouble.
Nationwide, AAA expects to rescue more than 393,000 stranded motorists, during the 4th of July holiday weekend. The three most common reasons are flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts. These could be avoided by having your car inspected before leaving for your destination and bringing an extra set of keys.
“The 4th of July is meant to be a day of celebration and the last place anyone wants to spend it is stranded on the roadside with car trouble,” said Mark Jenkins, Public Relations Manager for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Before setting out for your holiday road trip, make sure your tires, battery and brakes are all in proper working condition; and don’t forget that emergency kit.”
• 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.
• If you are able to safely make it to the next exit or stopping point, do so.
• 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:
Florida state law requires drivers to slow down and move over for first responders and emergency workers on the roadside. That includes tow truck drivers. Florida lawmakers also just passed a law requiring drivers to move over for disabled vehicles displaying their hazard lights. Although that law doesn’t go into effect until January, AAA urges drivers to begin following the law now.
“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 if you see flashing lights, move over so everyone can make it home safely for the holiday.”
How Drivers can Prevent Roadside Collisions:
• Remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on driving.
• Constantly scan the road ahead. This will help you identify and avoid potential hazards.
• Move over a lane when approaching a vehicle on the roadside with flashing lights. If you can’t move over, slow down to safely pass them.
• 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.
• Be a good passenger - Help identify roadway issues and remind the driver to slow down and move over.