Don't Get Stranded

More people will be on the roads this holiday season according to Triple A. And that also means more people will get stranded while they travel. As Laurie Johnson reports — nearly one and a half million drivers are estimated to need roadside assistance between now and the new year.

The good news, from an economic standpoint, is that the number of people who plan to travel for the holidays is up 3.3 percent from last year.

The bad news is more than a million of them will break down on the side of the road.

AAA Texas Spokesman Dan Ronan says there are two reasons for this.

"You find people driving distances normally that are longer than what they usually take. And so that's the first thing. And the other thing is that our car fleet is getting older because people have been holding off purchasing new cars or better used cars in many respects. So you have the combination of the two things — you have someone going on a longer trip and maybe they're driving an older car and the next thing you know they've got a breakdown on the side of the road and they need some help."

Ronan says their roadside assistance crews estimate they'll replace more than 90,000 car batteries and change 175,000 flat tires nationwide during the holiday period. Ronan says there's still time to prevent many of the predicted breakdowns.

"We do not have extreme weather in Texas like they do in the Midwest and other parts of the country and the Northeast. However, batteries, after about three years of regular old normal use, start to fail. So that's one of the things you need to do — you need to get your battery checked and make sure that the battery is in decent shape. Also need to make sure that your tires are in decent shape — just check the wear, make sure the mechanic looks at that. And then also look at the heating and cooling system."

Ronan says if drivers do some of that routine maintenance this weekend before they hit the roads, two thirds of the potential breakdowns could be prevented.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...