WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, May 25, 2021)––The “official” start to the summer travel season will kick off this weekend. Some 34.4 million Americans, including 867,000 residents in the Washington metro area, are setting off on Memorial Day road trips. Before hitting the road, it is imperative to get a vehicle inspection to check key components, like the battery, engine, tires, brakes and fluid levels, AAA recommends. This is vital for operating, maintaining and caring for your vehicle, and avoiding a roadside breakdown.
What is more, motorists hitting the road this week to celebrate the unofficial kick-off to summer will be greeted with the most expensive Memorial Day weekend gas prices since 2014. The national average has stabilized following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack. Yet pump prices are likely to fluctuate leading up to the holiday weekend. Despite supply chain hiccups, gas will be plentiful this holiday weekend. But other things can spoil your road trips. Common roadside emergencies that could cause trip delays can often be avoided.
“As most cars sat idle most of last year, due to the pandemic, it is even more important than ever to make sure that your car is road-ready before traveling this holiday,” said Khalil Augustus, Car Care Manager, AAA Brandywine Car Care Center. “While venturing out on their first long road trip in more than a year, it is crucial for the 2.6 million travelers hailing from the Washington Metro area, Virginia, and Maryland by auto to recognize, to a large extent, one’s fuel consumption depends on driving habits and operating conditions. So avoid frequent acceleration and deceleration, and keep your tires at the recommended inflation pressures.”
The number of gas stations without fuel in the District increased 10% over the weekend, reaching 57% on Monday, and the tally of filling station without gas stood at half - 50% - Tuesday morning, according to a fuel supply tracking service. Holiday road trippers may come across some gas stations with low fuel supply in popular travel destinations, like beaches, mountains or national parks, warns AAA. However, markets are not expected to be fuel-less, as we witnessed in the wake of the pipeline shutdown.
Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned on road trips or round trips. During the long holiday weekend, AAA Roadside Assistance roadway rescuers will be standing by in rapt watch. AAA Mid-Atlantic expects to rescue over 30,000 motorists region-wide this Memorial Day weekend, including 7,300 motorists in Maryland, almost 5,400 vehicle operators in Virginia, and more than 900 drivers in the District of Columbia.
Nationwide, AAA Emergency Roadside crews expect to come to the aid of 468,000 motorists over the holiday weekend. Last year, AAA “May Day, May Day” roadside responders extracted over 21,000 motorists in the region. The auto club fielded SOS calls from 5,900 stranded Maryland motorists, and dispatched crews to extricate over 4,500 stalled drivers in Virginia, and more than 400 drivers in distress in Washington, D.C.
“Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons holiday travelers will experience car trouble,” said Russell Jeffrey, Supervisor, AAA Roadside Assistance Fleet Depot, Springfield. “Long trips coupled with hot weather place additional strain on vehicles and in some cases may accelerate a dormant issue or something that may have gone unnoticed with fewer miles being driven this past year.”
In an effort to ensure cars are road-ready, travelers are advised to have their vehicles inspected by trusted repair shops, including AAA Car Care Centers. AAA Mid-Atlantic is also offering a free oil change for Washington, D.C. metro area AAA members who visit any AAA Car Care Center in the region through June 30th. Members can schedule an appointment at AAA.com/CarCare. Given the increased number of people traveling for the holiday and the renewed enthusiasm for a “Great American Road Trip*,” it is vital that travelers be prepared for emergencies. Travelers can refer to AAA’s free COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik for the latest information to help plan their trip.
AAA offers the following advice as motorists take their next Great American Road Trip:
- Schedule a checkup. Take your vehicle to a 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.
- Prevent lockouts. Always take your 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.
- AAA Membership – Provides safety and peace of mind. AAA Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
- Non-AAA Member - If you’re not a member, now through the end of May, you can receive 50% off a Classic Primary Membership with one free Classic Associate Membership. Use promo code PGAPR50 when you join by phone (1-844-945-0621), online or at any AAA retail location.
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 Move Over Laws. 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.
- 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, as well as cleaning supplies, including disinfecting wipes.
Great American Road Trip Campaign
As Americans begin their Great American Road Trips this summer, AAA is here and ready to help. We’ve compiled our favorite trip-planning resources, backed by more than 100 years of road-tested experience and expertise. AAA.com/Road Trip* is a free resource to help travelers find inspiration, explore destinations, plan the perfect route and get their vehicle road trip ready. Regardless to how you plan to get to your destination, AAA advises travelers to consult with a knowledgeable travel advisor to help plan their trips this Memorial Day. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel.
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AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and nearly 90,000 members in Washington, D.C. 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 non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, 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 on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com..