WILKES-BARRE — This summer, AAA expects to rescue 7 million American drivers, with the majority facing battery, lock- and tire-related issues.
AAA says that number could soar higher — a AAA survey revealed that 4 out of 10 American drivers are unprepared for emergency breakdown situations.
With three-quarters of family travelers planning to travel by car to their favorite vacation spot, AAA reminds motorists to take the necessary precautions to ensure they are well prepared for a safe road trip.
“Don’t be fooled if your car survived the relatively mild winter season, as summer heat can take a toll on vehicles, causing overheating engines, tire blowouts and dead batteries,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Having a disabled vehicle is a stressful and dangerous situation, which is why AAA urges motorists to have their vehicles checked out ahead of the summer driving season — especially testing car batteries, inspecting tires, and packing a vehicle emergency kit — to make sure they are in road ready condition.”
Pennsylvania AAA Roadside Assistance Calls Summer 2016 (June 21 – Sept. 23):
• Batteries — 74,617 (22.9 percent)
• Flat Tires — 46,719 (14.4 percent)
• Lockouts — 39,539 (12.2 percent)
• Total Calls — 324,963
AAA has found that many drivers are unprepared for roadside emergencies. Survey data shows that two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested — 1 in 5 do not know how to change a tire and 4 in 10 do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle.
Other findings from AAA’s 2017 roadside assistance data show:
• Dead batteries, flat tires and vehicle lockouts are top reasons that members call AAA during the summer.
• While more than half of members’ problems are resolved at the roadside by AAA, more than 3 million drivers will experience significant vehicle issues this summer that require a tow to a repair facility.
• With low-profile tires and the elimination of spare tires, many newer vehicles are especially susceptible to roadside trouble.
“Roadside breakdowns continue to rise each year and can be a safety hazard for everyone on the road,” Tidwell said. “AAA is ready to help when vehicle troubles leave you stranded, however, travelers can minimize their risk by planning ahead and preparing properly.”
AAA offers the following tips to help avoid common roadside problems:
• Schedule a checkup. Take your vehicle to AAA Car Care Center or trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.
• Pack an emergency kit. Every vehicle should be equipped with a well-stocked emergency kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit with tire pressure gauge and adjustable wrench, windshield washer solution, jumper cables and emergency flares or reflectors, drinking water, extra snacks and food for travelers and pets.
• Prevent lockouts. Always take keys when exiting the car and bring a spare car key on every trip. Avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and always replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Additionally, AAA reminds drivers to take the following safety precautions on the road:
• Drive distraction-free. Do not text or engage in distracting activities while driving, including interacting with a cell phone, talking with passengers or looking at other objects in the vehicle.
• Comply with the Move Over Law. Observe the Move Over Law when law enforcement or emergency vehicles are on the side of the road. Change lanes or slow down to give sufficient clearance. This is the law in all 50 states.
• Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.