NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than 882,000 Tennesseans are expected to travel at least 50 miles over Memorial Day weekend, including an estimated 751,000 who will be taking road trips, according to AAA.
However, thousands of these motorists will experience car trouble, experts predict.
In fact, officials forecast AAA will rescue more than 483,000 stranded motorists across the country during the holiday weekend, with the most common reasons being flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts.
Based on a recent AAA survey, 55% of Tennesseans plan to get a professional vehicle inspection before their summer road trips, 25% will conduct their own inspection, and 12% have no plans to get a vehicle inspection.
“A properly maintained vehicle is critical for a successful and safe road trip,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman 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.”
Before you hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, check out these tips from AAA about preventing vehicle issues:
- Check your tires: AAA recommends checking all of your tires — including the spare tire — at least once a month and before taking a long trip. You should pay extra attention to both tire inflation pressure and tread depth.
- Check your battery: The average car battery life is between three and five years. If your engine is slow to start and/or your lights are dim, that could mean your battery is nearing death. Other indicators of deterioration include visual signs of damage or corrosion.
Drivers can ask for a battery check at a AAA Car Care Center or approved auto repair facility, but AAA can also come to a member’s location to test and — if necessary — replace the battery on site.
- Pay attention to the brakes: If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when using the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection.
- Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner: Since rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time, most manufacturers recommend replacing them every six to 12 months. If the wipers streak or fail to thoroughly clear the windshield thoroughly, you should replace the blades.
- Top off engine oil and other fluids: Make sure your engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission, and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. If you need to add 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, including a flashlight, 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.
While preparing your vehicle is a crucial step for any road trip, it’s also important for drivers to prepare themselves to focus on the road. AAA issued a reminder about the following safe driving habits:
- Watch your speed: According to AAA, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle deaths for more than 20 years, so make sure to drive the speed limit and lower your speed if conditions warrant.
- Watch the road: “Distracted drivers kill thousands of people every year,” AAA said. “Taking eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.”
Examples of potential distractions include using cell phones, eating, drinking, or interacting with other passengers. By focusing on the road, drivers are able to to spot and avoid possible hazards that could otherwise lead to a crash.
- Drive Sober: Drugs and alcohol negatively affect the brain functions that are necessary for safe driving — judgement, motor skills, memory, and reaction time. Therefore, AAA urges you to avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming any substance that could impair your ability to drive.
- Rest up: Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, according to AAA. Not only should drivers get plenty of rest before a big road trip, but you should also take breaks every 100 miles or every two hours during the trip. If you start getting tired, you are asked to pull over.
Officials also advise drivers to keep an eye out for emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and cars with their lights or flashers on. If you see them, move over one lane. If you can’t move over, slow down so you can pass them safely.
Even if you’re just a passenger, you are urged to help identify any roadway issues, as well as remind the driver to slow down and move over.
In addition, motorists should watch out for people who are in or near a disabled vehicle on the side of the road.
“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,” Cooper added. “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.”
AAA has plenty of resources to help during road trips, like a database of AAA-approved auto repair facilities; a tool to estimate repair costs, including parts, labor, and a AAA member discount; and a gas cost calculator.
AAA’s Tow to Go program will also be activated from 6 p.m. on Friday, May 26 until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30, offering free and confidential rides to AAA members and non-members in multiple states, including Tennessee.