AAA estimates it will rescue 1,350 S.D. motorists this holiday season

AAA South Dakota anticipates it will come to the aid of 1,350 stranded motorists in South Dakota during the year-end holiday period, as 260,015 South Dakotans take to the highways for holiday trips between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, 2012. Last year during the same period AAA had 1,855 stranded motorist calls, and the Christmas blizzard of 2009 produced slightly higher numbers with 1,872 rescue calls.

The auto club will be replacing batteries, performing jump starts, changing tires, extricating cars from ditches, towing vehicles to repair shops and providing other services. Nationwide, AAA expects to come to the aid of more than 800,000 stranded members during the 11-day period.

"Whether you are planning a local day trip or long distance year-end holiday travel, breaking down is a real mood-buster," said Mark Madeja, spokesman for AAA South Dakota. "Timely vehicle maintenance is the solution."

AAA projects its roadside problem-solvers will be able to remedy the issues of more than three out of five stranded motorists at the scene of the breakdown and send them on their way, but almost 40 percent will need a tow.

After the need for a tow, the second most common roadside rescue service AAA anticipates performing is replacing or jump starting dead batteries, followed by getting members back into locked cars, changing flat tires, performing extrications and delivering fuel.

Motorists can avoid the causes of many roadside breakdowns by simply keeping their vehicles properly maintained. Check the strength of batteries, make sure tires have adequate tread and are properly inflated, top off all fluids under the hood, and make sure belts and hoses are not worn or cracked. Follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and make sure the car is ready for the rigors of year-end holiday driving.

To locate a reliable repair shop that can help prepare vehicles for winter driving, visit one of AAA's more than 8,000 Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities nationwide, including 4 across South Dakota. AAA's network of AAR shops is a free public service that enables consumers to identify professional auto shops staffed by certified technicians who are equipped with the proper tools and equipment to service today's high-tech automobiles. Motorists can find AAR facilities online under Automotive at AAA.com.

AAA members who are Android and iPhone users can download AAA Roadside, a mobile smartphone application that enables motorists in need of a roadside rescue to request help without making a phone call. The user simply enters the details of their situation and clicks an onscreen button. AAA Roadside then transmits the information and the user's location as established by the phone's GPS technology directly to AAA Roadside Assistance. The app also displays nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair locations so members can decide where to have their vehicle towed, if they so choose.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members (91,000 in South Dakota) with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA South Dakota can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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