Checks you should make on your vehicle before you travel for the holidays

AAA expects to rescue over 360,000 stranded motorists nationwide over Thanksgiving weekend. The three most common reasons expected for service calls are flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts.

In Florida, AAA expects nearly 2.8 million drivers to take a Thanksgiving road trip, and the auto club urges them to have their vehicles inspected before leaving home.

“Don’t let car trouble be the reason you don’t make it to Thanksgiving dinner,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “Before setting out for your holiday road trip, ensure your tires, battery and brakes are all in proper working condition; and don’t forget to pack an emergency kit for added peace of mind.”

AAA tips to prevent vehicle issues

Check your tires – At minimum, AAA recommends checking your tires once a month and before taking a long trip. Pay special attention to both tire inflation pressure and tread depth. Be sure to inspect all four tires and the spare tire if your vehicle has one.Check your battery – The average car battery life is typically 3-5 years. If your engine is slow to start and/or your lights are dim, your battery might be nearing the end of its life. Visual signs of damage or corrosion are other indicators of deterioration. Drivers can ask for a battery check at a AAA Car Care Center or Approved Auto Repair Facility. AAA can also come to a member’s location to test and, if needed, replace the battery on-site.Listen to and feel the brakes – If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection.Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner – Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them every 6-12 months. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, replace the blades.Top off engine oil and other fluids – Check that engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding 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. Include a flashlight and 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.

AAA’s safety tips for drivers at the roadside

Pull as far over on the shoulder as safely possible to create more distance between your vehicle and passing traffic.Turn your hazard lights on so other drivers are aware you are there.If you are able to safely make it to the next exit or stopping point, do so.Call for assistance via phone, website or the AAA Mobile app.Remain with your vehicle as long as it’s safe to do so.If getting out of your vehicle, watch the oncoming traffic for a good time to exit, and remain alert and close to your vehicle. Avoid turning your back to traffic whenever possible.

Move over for roadside workers and stranded drivers

With more people sharing the roads, the danger is multiplied for those on the roadside. AAA reminds drivers to slow down and move over for first responders, tow trucks, and any driver with a disabled vehicle on the side of the road.

“We want to make sure all holiday travelers, tow truck drivers and first responders make it home safely this Thanksgiving,” Jenkins said. “All drivers can help by moving over for flashing lights, whether it’s a tow truck or a disabled vehicle with its hazard lights on. Even if it adds a few minutes to your commute, that small gesture could save a life.”

Florida law requires drivers to slow down and move over for emergency, service, and maintenance vehicles on the roadside. This year, Florida lawmakers expanded that law, requiring drivers to also move over for disabled motorists. While that law does not go into effect until January, AAA urges drivers to begin following it now.

How drivers can prevent roadside collisions:

Remain alert. Avoid distractions and focus on driving.Constantly scan the road ahead. This will help you identify and avoid potential hazards.Move over a lane when approaching a vehicle on the roadside with flashing lights. If you can’t move over, slow down to safely pass them.Watch for people on the roadside. People may be in or near a disabled vehicle. Just because you don’t immediately see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.Be a good passenger. Help identify roadway issues and remind the driver to slow down and move over.

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