Prepare vehicles now for summer travel

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Georgia State Patrol is encouraging motorists to make sure their vehicles are ready for the road before embarking on summer trips.

Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said summer’s high temperatures lead to an increase in the number of stalled vehicles Georgia State Troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance Officers see on Georgia roads.

“Summer temperatures are dangerous to both people and cars if proper precautions are not taken,” Hitchens said. “It is vital that your vehicle is in proper running condition.”

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The commissioner points out that the outside heat and humidity, combined with the heat generated by your vehicle, can take a toll on your engine, transmission and cooling system.

“Tires are especially vulnerable to blow-outs when the weather gets hot,” he noted. “When tires are neglected and aren’t inflated to the proper recommended pressure, blow-outs can occur and caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.”

He pointed out that additional weight associated with summer travel can increase the strain on the vehicle’s tires and increase the friction between the tire and the roadway. Tires should be rotated regularly, have sufficient tread, and be inflated to the recommended level, which is stamped on each tire.

Motorists are cautioned to make sure children and pets are not left in unattended vehicles as the temperature inside a vehicle can reach a fatal level very quickly when the ignition and air-conditioning are turned off in a poorly ventilated vehicle.

“Do not leave children and animals unattended,” Hitchens said. “Teach children that a car or truck is not a play area and be sure to lock your vehicle.”

He also reminded drivers to make it a regular practice to check the back seat and back floor area for children and animals each time you exit your vehicle.

Hitchens said Georgia State Troopers and MCCD Officers routinely watch for stranded motorists and provide assistance to them during the course of everyday patrols. Troopers recommend checking your vehicle to make sure service is being performed at recommended intervals; that all fluids are filled to proper levels with fresh fluids; and regularly inspect the belts and hoses for cracks and leaks. Additionally, troopers remind drivers to check their windshield wipers and replace the blades if necessary.

“Any defects found with your vehicle should be repaired immediately,” Hitchens said.

State troopers recommend drivers prepare and keep an emergency roadside kit in their vehicles. The kit should include a flashlight, first-aid kit, jumper cables, gloves, extra clothes, extra washer fluid, non-perishable food, a gallon of water, and basic tools.

“Emergency roadside assistance numbers should also be kept in a convenient location,” Hitchens said. “This includes membership numbers and related information your auto club may need in order to provide you with roadside service.”

Troopers also advise drivers to make sure their cell phones are fully charged so calls for assistance can be made should you become stranded and lose power in your vehicle.