AAA urges preparedness, offers tips for safe holiday travel

With one of the busiest traveling seasons of the year coinciding with winter weather projected to arrive around the Christmas holiday, Oklahoma AAA is urging travelers to be prepared in case they are stranded.

AAA estimates as 800,500 Oklahomans hit the roads for the holiday season, it will assist more than 8,600 stranded motorists across the state from Dec. 19 to Jan. 2, helping them with everything from lockouts to towing vehicles.

The auto club which says it expects 1.2 million calls for help nationwide during the 15-day period says most of these calls can be avoided.

AAA says drivers can avoid most road troubles by following their vehicles manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and making sure their vehicles are ready the year-end holiday driving.

The club recommends using this list to prepare for heading out onto the open road.

  • Check antifreeze annually to ensure a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water to protect against freezing.

  • Replace streaky wiper blades and fill the windshield washer reservoir with winter detergent fluid to prevent freeze up.

  • As a tire loses about a pound of pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature, check the pressure frequently to maintain the recommended levels found on the driver's door jamb. Additionally, reducing tire pressure in an effort to increase traction on snow and ice does not work.

  • Test your battery's strength and ensure connections are tight and free of corrosion to avoid an unexpected failure.

  • Replace drive belts that are cracked, glazed or frayed, as well as coolant hoses that are visibly worn, brittle, bulging or excessively soft. Check for leaks around hose clamps and at the radiator and water pump.

While these tips may help keep motorists driving safely on the road, sometimes unexpected weather or vehicle problems may still arise and leave them stranded.

AAA encourages motorists ensure their emergency roadside kit for winter includes a mobile phone and car charger, blankets, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, drinking water, a small shovel, a sack of sand, cat litter or traction mats, windshield scraper and brush, battery booster cables, paper towels and emergency flares or reflectors.

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