AAA Anticipates Rescuing Nearly 1.3 Million Stranded Motorists During Year-End Holidays Period
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, December 16, 2010
With 77.7 million traveling by auto during final weeks of December, preparation is the key to avoiding trouble on the roadside
AAA anticipates it will come to the aid of nearly 1.3 million stranded motorists during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Between December 19 and January 3, the nation’s largest motor club will be busy with battery replacements and jump starts, changing tires, extricating vehicles from snow, towing vehicles for repair and more.
“Becoming stranded on the roadway can quickly put a damper on your holiday spirit. Many motorists can avoid roadside trouble with a little preventive maintenance and careful driving,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA Automotive vice president. “Whether it’s a trip to the mall for last-minute shopping or a road trip to visit family, having your vehicle properly maintained and prepared for winter weather will help ensure it gets you to your destination safely.”
Tow truck rides instead of sleigh rides this holiday season
AAA predicts its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy more than three out of five motorists’ problems and send them on their way, but about a half million drivers are expected to need a ride in a tow truck instead of Santa’s sleigh this holiday season.
After the need for a tow, the second biggest issue the motor club anticipates encountering is the need to replace or jump start dead batteries. More than 280,000 requests for help with a dead battery are expected during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and the motor club will replace more than 50,000 failing batteries on the roadside.
AAA will change approximately 170,000 tires during the final two weeks of the year, and retrieve another 170,000 sets of keys locked inside vehicles.
Preventive maintenance—the best holiday gift for your vehicle
The best way to keep a vehicle running smoothly and safely is to keep it properly maintained. Motorists should following their vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and make sure their vehicle is ready for winter. Some key components to inspect on a vehicle include:
- Antifreeze. Check antifreeze annually to ensure it will withstand the winter cold. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water will protect against freezing.
- Windshield wipers and washer fluid. Replace wiper blades if they do not clear the glass in a single swipe without streaking. Where appropriate, consider the use of special winter blades that offer improved performance in snow and ice conditions. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.
- Tires. Cold weather reduces tire inflation pressure, so check tire pressures frequently and maintain the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on the driver’s door jamb—not the pressure stamped on the tire sidewall. Motorists should never reduce tire pressure in an attempt to increase traction on snow and ice. This does not work, and when the roads dry out it can cause excessive tire wear and vehicle handling problems.
In areas where it snows, motorists should make sure their tires have at least an M&S rating, which means they provide the added traction required in light to moderate snow. In areas that get heavy snow fall, tires designed for such conditions are advised and can be identified by a mountain/snowflake symbol molded into the tire sidewall. The use of snow tires and tire chains provides added traction, and may be required by local laws during the winter driving season or under certain road conditions. For best results, snow tires should be fitted to all four wheels.
- Battery. Check for a secure fit and clean away any corrosion on the battery and its cable connections. If the battery is out of warranty, it’s advisable to have it tested before cold weather hits. If replacement is necessary, have a certified technician help select the proper battery for your vehicle type and local climate. In many areas, AAA members can make an appointment to have a AAA Battery Service technicians visit their home or office to check and replace batteries.
- Belts and hoses. Replace accessory drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump.
- Other important areas to have a certified technician check in preparation for winter include the vehicle’s fluid levels, lights, brakes, exhaust system and heater/defroster. Throughout the winter driving season, motorists should continue to have regular services, including oil and filter changes, performed at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Motorists seeking a trustworthy repair shop to help prepare their vehicle for winter are encouraged to visit one of AAA’s more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities. AAA’s network of approved repair shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today’s high-tech automobiles. Consumers can find Approved Auto Repair facilities online at AAA.com/repair.
Stay focused on driving—not sugar plums dancing in your head
Not all the requests AAA will receive for assistance this holiday season will be due to mechanical failure. Some will be the result of unplanned trips off road due to wintery weather or distractions. Some tips to keep the vehicle safely on the road include:
- Avoid distractions. Stay focused on the task of driving and avoid distractions such as texting, phone calls and adjusting the radio or other electronic devices.
- Remove snow and ice. Use a snow brush to remove any snow from the trunk, hood, lights windows and roof of the vehicle and make sure ice is clear from all windows and mirrors before beginning to drive.
- Increase following distances on ice and snow. Motorists should leave eight to 10 seconds between themselves and vehicle in front of them when driving in slippery conditions.
- Brush up on winter driving skills. AAA’s “How to Go in Ice and Snow” brochure provides tips on controlling a vehicle in slippery conditions, reacting to a skid and more. Motorists can find it in the “On The Road” section at AAA.com/PublicAffairs.
Keep a gift to yourself in the car—a well stocked emergency kit
Though preventative measures go a long way toward keeping motorists driving safely on the road, unexpected weather or vehicle problems may still arise and leave them stranded. AAA encourages motorists to update their emergency roadside kit for winter to include a mobile phone and car charger; blankets; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; a small shovel; a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats; windshield scraper and brush; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.
Membership with a reliable roadside assistance provider also can be extremely useful in winter. AAA’s extensive network of roadside problem-solvers is comprised of trained technicians and specially-equipped vehicles throughout the U.S. and Canada.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
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