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On the road again: Beware summer travel woes

Staff Photos: Erin Evans . Golden Rule's Kenny Coker works on an electrical problem with a vehicle's air conditioning system. He said air conditioning malfunctions keep mechanics busy during the summer months.

Staff Photos: Erin Evans . Golden Rule's Kenny Coker works on an electrical problem with a vehicle's air conditioning system. He said air conditioning malfunctions keep mechanics busy during the summer months.

COVINGTON -- The Georgia State Patrol is encouraging motorists to make sure their vehicles are ready for the road before embarking on summer trips, and there's no shortage of garages in the area to help out.

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."

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

"Tires are especially vulnerable to blowouts when the weather gets hot," he warned. "When tires are neglected and aren't inflated to the proper recommended pressure, blowouts can occur and cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle."

Also, he noted 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 air conditioning is turned off in a poorly ventilated vehicle.

"Do not leave children and animals unattended," Hitchens said, adding that it is vital to take precautions so that children won't lock themselves in vehicles. "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 GSP troopers and MCCD officers routinely watch for stranded motorists and provide assistance to them during the course of everyday patrols.

"Any defects found with your vehicle should be repaired immediately," he said.

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. Also, drivers should check their windshield wipers and replace blades, if necessary.

It is recommended that drivers prepare and keep an emergency roadside kit in their vehicles. This 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 recommended. "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 cellphones are fully charged so calls for assistance can be made should you become stranded and lose power in your vehicle.