Public Affairs Director
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May 11, 2017 – This summer, AAA is predicting the auto club will rescue seven million American drivers nationwide with the majority of them facing battery, lock-out and tire-related issues. This year in South Dakota, AAA says they expect to respond to 35,600 calls for help from AAA members, one percent more than in 2016.
These numbers could soar higher. A recent AAA survey reveals that four 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 this year, 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 winter season, as summer’s heat can take a toll on vehicles, causing overheating engines, tire blowouts and dead batteries,” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokeswoman for AAA South Dakota. “Have your vehicles checked out ahead of the summer driving season – especially testing car batteries, inspecting tires, and packing a vehicle emergency kit.”
AAA’s 2017 roadside assistance data show that many drivers are unprepared for roadside emergencies. The survey says two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested, one in five do not know how to change a tire and four in 10 do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle.
- 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,” said Buskohl. “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:
- 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 South Dakota’s “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. And be especially careful in road construction zones.
- 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 roadside service provider.
Before hitting the road, AAA recommends that drivers download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch. Travelers can use the app to request AAA roadside assistance, route a trip, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, book a hotel, and more. AAA members can also track the location of their assigned service vehicle in real time with Service Tracker. Learn more at www.AAA.com.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 97,000 members in South Dakota. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.