Summer is almost here and AAA has already announced that it expects to rescue 7 million drivers nationwide this summer. That includes 169,000 calls for roadside assistance in Arizona, a 1.2 percent increase compared to 2016. In Arizona alone, AAA expects to jumpstart more than 57,000 car batteries, change more than 21,000 tires and unlock more than 16,000 vehicles.
If you are not exactly for roadside emergencies as you hit the road for a long summer trip, you are not alone. AAA estimated that two-thirds of U.S. drivers have never proactively had their cars battery-tested, and one in five U.S. drivers don’t know how to change a tire. Also, four in 10 don’t carry an emergency kit in their vehicles. Here are seven tips to help drivers stay safe on the road this summer.
Tire Safety in the Summer
Choose your tires carefully. Too many drivers buy their tires based on initial price or appearance. Tire selection should be based on the correct size recommended for the vehicle and its loading recommendations. It is important that you consult with a knowledgeable tire or auto dealer about selecting the proper tire for your typical driving patterns.
Purchase a tire gauge and keep it handy in your vehicle at all times. A tire gauge will tell you if you need more air in your tires. Check your tire pressure at least once each month, especially before a long trip. Underinflation in tires can be dangerous because it can cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Overinflation can also cause uneven wear plus handling and stopping problems. Use the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure, which is listed on the sticker of your vehicle’s door jamb or owner’s manual as a guide.
Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. If your tires show uneven wear, ask your mechanic to check for and correct any misalignment, imbalance or other mechanical problem involved before rotation. Inspect and measure your tire tread. You can do this by placing a penny in the tread groove. If you are able to see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it is time to replace your tires. Check the tire’s sidewalls to make sure there are no cuts, gouges or other irregularities.
Make sure you don’t overload your vehicle because it can create excessive heat inside your tires. An overloaded vehicle can put unnecessary stress on tires, which can cause damage and lead to a tire blowout. Consider replacing your tires every six years, even if their treads are not worn out. Tires tend to deteriorate as they age and could experience tread separations and other failures.
Before taking a long trip in your car, get it inspected by a qualified mechanic. The last thing you want during your summer road trip is a vehicle breakdown. At the minimum, you need to change the oil and oil filter and top off your washer fluid. You might also want to get new wiper blades, flush the coolant system and maybe, even replace the engine’s belts and hoses. Before leaving on your road trip, make sure all of your car’s lights work. If you own a vehicle that is not ready for a long trip, it might be worth your while to rent a car. Keep an emergency kit in your car at all times. This kit should include first-aid supplies, a hazard triangle, warning flares, jumper cables and flashlights with fresh batteries.
Put Safety First Always
Always wear your seatbelt and insist that all your passengers are safely buckled up as well. If you have a flat tire or if you are involved in an accident, drive out of traffic lanes and off the highway if possible. Always plan ahead. Never drink and drive. If you have been drinking, have a designated sober driver take you home. If you see drunk or dangerous drivers on the roadway, call 911 right away. Some symptoms of drunk driving include excessive weaving or swerving, traveling at speeds much slower than traffic flow, braking erratically, making sudden stops and remaining at signal lights after they turn green.
Focus on the road at all times. Do not text or talk on the cell phone while driving, even if you have hands-free. If you need to make a call, check road or weather conditions or respond to a text, wait until you stop in a safe place such as rest stop or parking lot. Don’t program your mobile GPS while you are driving. Share the driving with other passengers to avoid fatigue. Rest if you need to because driving while drowsy can prove fatal. Schedule your trip to allow for frequent breaks. Take time to pull over at rest stops to stretch your legs and focus. Stop for food or beverages. Avoid eating while driving. Practice defensive driving. Never get angry or aggressive.
Follow the Rules of the Road
According to AAA, roadside assistance drivers encounter close calls regularly due to drivers not adhering to Arizona’s Move Over law. This law essentially requires motorists to move over or slow down for any vehicle including stranded motorists and roadside workers displaying flashing lights alongside a freeway or highway. When you experience a breakdown, the more details you know, the better.
Landmarks, mile markers and other distinguishable surroundings and help rescue drivers locate you sooner. Be sure to stop for red lights and stop signs. Yield the right of way to oncoming traffic at intersections including motorcycle and bicycles. Always yield the right of way to pedestrians. Stop for pedestrians whether or not they are walking in a crosswalk. Drive at a safe speed. Leave enough room between you and the vehicle ahead.
If You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in an Arizona car accident, there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure that your legal rights are protected. File a police report and obtain a copy of the report for your records. Gather as much information as you can from other parties involved in the accident including driver’s license, insurance, contact information, etc. Secure contact information for eyewitnesses or anyone who may have seen the incident. Take as many photographs as possible of the accident scene.
Get prompt medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries. Save all invoices and receipts relating to your incident. Contact an experienced Mesa personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and help ensure that the victims’ legal rights and best interests are protected.