Low gas prices are fueling the busiest Memorial Day Weekend since 2005 and AAA is forecasting 38 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday weekend this year, with 33.9 million going by car.
Ahead of the official start to the summer road trip season and National Tire Safety Week (May 29 – June 3), Michelin and AAA have teamed up to provide expert safety tips and urge motorists to B.E. S.A.F.E. on the road this Memorial Day weekend.
"The odds of getting into a driving crash increase significantly when more cars are on the road, which is why drivers should take extra precautions both before and while they're on the road," said Robert Sinclair, AAA spokesperson. "AAA expects to rescue over 350,000 motorists at the roadside this weekend -- a few simple safety checks could help prevent you being one of them."
Flat tires are among the most common mishaps that are called in to AAA, along with dead batteries and lockouts.
"Most people forget about their tires, but when you think about it, they're the only part of the vehicle contacting the road," said Sarah Robinson, safe driving expert for Michelin. "Many tire-related incidents can be avoided if drivers ensure they have proper tire pressure and adequate tread depth."
B.E. S.A.F.E. this holiday weekend and all summer long with these six road-trip tips from Michelin and AAA:
B: Begin with a safety check. It's better to be safe than sorry. Conduct periodic safety checks to ensure your car is in good operating condition, especially before a long trip. Before you hit the road, make sure your lights, fluids, hoses, windshield wipers and tires are in good working order.
E: Employ the penny test. Tires are the only part of your car that touches the road, so ensuring they're in good condition for maximum grip is of the utmost importance. Make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread before hitting the road, especially with the possibility of unexpected summer showers. Click here to learn how easy it is to do this with a penny. And if you decide your tires need replacing, you might want to consider a great all-season tire like the Pilot Sport A/S 3 Plus, which delivers true all-season performance and superior wet- and dry-braking.
S: Stay safe, check your pressure. Tires don't carry the weight of your vehicle, the air pressure inside them does. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticeable and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. In fact, under-inflation is one of the most common reasons for tire failure.
As a general rule, your tire pressure will gain or lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10° F change in temperature. Check your air pressure when tires are "cold" in the morning and compare that number to the sticker in your door jamb before hitting the road for holiday travel. Don't forget to check the air in your spare, too.
A: Avoid overloading. Consider leaving your extra suitcase at home when seeking out sun and sand, and be sure to clear out any extra junk that may have accumulated in your car over the winter. Lightening your load will positively impact your gas mileage, handling and braking distance.
F: Focus on the road. While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet. Save these actions for a rest stop, or if necessary, pull over to the side of the road.
E: Emergency preparedness: Always carry a well-stocked emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. It's also a good idea to program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider, and keep a back-up written list in your glove compartment.