Tis’ the season for safe holiday travel, tips before you hit the road

ORLANDO, Fla. — With pandemic restrictions loosening this year many Americans are getting ready to hit the road this holiday season.

Nearly 49 million Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving, and The Auto Club Group (AAA) wants to remind everyone to make sure your car is ready for the trip.

AAA estimates that 400,000 Americans will need roadside assistance during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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The three most common issues are dead batteries, flat tires, and lock outs.

“Most vehicle problems like these could be prevented with a pre-trip vehicle inspection,” said Mark Jenkins spokesman, AAA. “Before you hit the road this Thanksgiving, make sure to check everything from the battery to the tires. That could make the difference between spending Thanksgiving at the table or on the roadside.”

Check out the top 5 items AAA recommends you check before the rubber meets the road.

  • Tires
  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Fluids
  • Wiper Blades

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In 2020, there were 3,069 tire-related crashes in Florida, resulting in 184 serious body injuries and 61 fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).

AAA recommends checking your vehicle’s tires at least once a month and before taking a long trip.

Check the tire pressure when the tires are cool and follow the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which you can find on the sticker on the driver side door as well as the owner’s manual.

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Once the tire pressure is checked, go ahead and check tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into the grooves. If you see the top of George Washington’s head, it is time for new tires.

Charge up!!! If you are traveling to visit relatives or friends in another part of the country, remember that changes in temperature can take a toll on your car battery. Have a professional check your battery to make sure your battery is in working order.

Remember to pump those brakes before the big trip. 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.

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With winter weather upon, replace those wiper blades and fill the windshield cleaner to keep those windows clear.

Also check and top off the vehicle’s oil, coolant, brake, transmission and power steering fluids before you take that trip.

AAA also recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle, including a cellphone charger, 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.

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If your vehicle does break down:

  • Pull off the road to a safe place
  • Switch on emergency flashers to notify other drivers
  • Call for roadside assistance
  • Stay with your vehicle, unless it is unsafe to do so

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Finally AAA wants you to remember that whether it’s the holiday season or not, impaired driving is never safe driving.

In 2020, during November and December, there were 1,052 crashes involving alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both in Florida, and 5,442 DUI citations issued across the state.

“Safety is always in season, and what better gift to give your loved ones this holiday season than your safe arrival,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Florida continues to be a top holiday destination for visitors and residents, making our roads some of the busiest during the upcoming months. As traffic volume increases, FLHSMV urges travelers to be proactive when making their travel plans, and practice safe driving behaviors to ensure the safety of all.”

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