TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — As a record-breaking 993,000 Marylanders prepare to get away for the Fourth of July holiday, the excessive heat is wreaking havoc on vehicles, interfering with travel plans.
AAA Mid-Atlantic helped 25,000 motorists from Friday through Monday across five states and Washington, D.C. — a 12 percent increase over the same holiday period in 2017.
“Summer heat takes a toll on vehicles, causing overheated engines, tire blowouts and dead batteries,” said Christine Sarames Delise, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Having a disabled vehicle is a stressful and dangerous situation, which is why AAA urges drivers to stock an emergency kit, have their battery tested and inspect tires to make certain their cars are in road-ready condition.”
There was also a 12 percent increase over last year for the number of calls for roadside assistance — 6,700 service calls were made for stranded motorists in Maryland.
The top three culprits that led to the calls were tows, dead batteries and flat tires.
AAA expects to help another 26,000 stranded motorists through July 8.
AAA offers the following tips to help avoid common roadside problems:
- Schedule a checkup. Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility, such as a AAA Car Care Center in the Mid-Atlantic region or one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America, 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.
- Check the status of your AAA membership: Make sure the membership is up to date and review coverage level options to ensure lifestyle needs are met in case of a roadside emergency. Drivers should also program 1-800-AAA-HELP in their phones. For special offers on new AAA Memberships, use the promo code: “SAFETYNEW.” Current members renewing, can use the promo code: “SAFETY.” Call (866)-636-2377 or visit a nearby store. Locate a AAA store at AAA.com/Store.
AAA also recommends these 10 tips for making Independence Day road trips safer and more hassle-free:
- With busier roads during the holiday weekend, obey posted speed limits. Speed limits are based on safe driving in optimal conditions. Slow down if weather conditions or traffic congestion warrant it.
- Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Be extra vigilant and leave extra space for motorcycles.
- Have everyone in your vehicle wear their seat belts at all times.
- Avoid distractions while driving. Don’t use your cell phone while you’re behind the wheel. If needed, let a passenger respond to a message or look something up on your phone.
- Observe the Move Over Law when law enforcement emergency vehicles are on the side of the road. Change lanes or slow down to give sufficient clearance. Keep in mind, every state has a move-over law.
- 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.
- Remember—buzzed driving is drunk driving; never drink and drive. Plan ahead and have a designated driver or organize a ride if you’ll be consuming alcohol.
- For help in planning your road trip, if you are a AAA member, take advantage of maps and tourbooks, as well as discounts with many of the club’s travel partners such as hotels and Hertz rental cars.
- Find daily gas price updates for every state in America and key metro areas using AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report at GasPrices.AAA.com or via the AAA mobile app.
- Pack your patience, have a safe trip and enjoy the holiday.
Emma Tucker authored this article.