This week, the AAA Kansas offices report the following most popular destinations AAA Kansas members are planning to visit this summer:
Wichita – Colorado (Denver area), Branson Table Rock Lake (Mo.) Arizona Central Florida, incl. Orlando, Daytona Beach & Ft. LauderdaleTopeka – Canada Estes Park Mt. Rushmore Central Florida Western New York
Lawrence – Florida Beaches Branson Seattle Colorado
Manhattan – Colorado, Mt. Rushmore, Gatlinburg, Tenn., Blue Ridge Parkway, and Houston, Texas, through Dallas.
Take time to prepare for that roadtrip
With a record number of Kansas travelers planning a road trip, motorists are urged to make sure their vehicles are road trip ready, too. Last year, AAA Kansas’s Roadside Rescue Team came to the aid of over 1,000 stranded Kansas motorists during the five-day Independence Day holiday period. “Most of the calls we receive in Kansas over the Independence Day holiday weekend are for tire (11 percent) or battery (16 percent) issues, keys locked in the car (19 percent), or general calls to tow cars (48 percent) that won’t run for a variety of reasons,” Hanni said.
Top Tips to get your car ready for a road trip:
Long drives in the summer are tough on tires. Road debris, improper inflation and worn tread all can contribute to a blowout.
What to do: If you have a blowout, don’t slam on the brakes. Keep a firm grip on the wheel, slow down and pull over at the first safe opportunity.
How to prevent it: Inspect your tires (all five of them), when the car engine is cold, at least once a month for tread depth, proper inflation and damage from road debris. The correct tire pressure for your car is shown on a label, generally on the inside door jam of the driver side door.
If your coolant is low or contaminated, the radiator can’t do its job and the engine can overheat.
What to do: Pull over, pop the hood and turn off the A/C and other accessories as the engine idles. Contact AAA for a tow to a repair facility. Never remove the radiator cap while engine is hot.
How to prevent it: Take your vehicle to a repair facility if coolant is low or contaminated before your trip.
Summer heat strains a car’s battery and can hasten its failure.
What to do: Get a jump-start and have the battery checked by a qualified technician. Or contact AAA’s Mobile Battery Service (available in most metropolitan areas) and we will come to you. If you need a new battery, you can buy one and have it installed on the spot.
How to prevent it: Have your battery and electrical system tested before taking a trip.
LOW ENGINE OIL
Your engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle, and if it runs low or is too dirty, it can cause serious (and expensive) damage to the engine. Typically, a dashboard warning light will illuminate when a problem arises but before any damage is done.
What to do: If the warning light comes on, contact AAA to tow your vehicle to a repair facility immediately to have it checked. The longer you drive with a problem, the greater you risk serious engine damage.
How to prevent it: Before leaving on your trip, check the oil for proper levels and any sediment.
When bad weather hits, worn or cracked wiper blades can prevent you from seeing clearly through the windshield, increasing eye strain, driver fatigue—and the possibility of an accident.
What to do: Replace wiper blades as soon as they begin skipping or streaking.
How to prevent it: Even if your wiper blades seem to be working fine, inspect them regularly for cracks, tears and brittleness.
TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
Fort Larned National Historic Site west of Larned is one of many parks that will likely see increased visitation over the July 4 weekend, thanks in part to lower-priced gasoline.
The Independence Day holiday travel period is officially underway, with more than 35.5 million travelers expected on the road through Sunday, July 5. That’s an increase of 0.7 percent, but represents a record volume of auto travel for the Independence Day holiday, breaking last year’s record of 35.3 million auto travelers.
“Our region of the country has always had the highest percentage of travel by automobile of any region, so we expect a record number of travelers on Kansas roads,” said Jim Hanni, Executive Vice President, AAA Kansas Public Affairs. Counting all forms of travel, 41.9 million Americans will travel over the holiday weekend this year.
“With thousands of Kansas families hitting the road for the Independence Day holiday it is especially important to focus on the road, drive rested, allow extra time and plenty of space between you and other vehicles,” Hanni said. Kansas averages 390 Independence Day holiday weekend crashes, three fatalities and 140 people injured, according to KDOT’s most recent published five year average for this holiday weekend.
In addition to visiting neighborhood parades, fireworks and trips to area lakes, our offices report the average planned trip to be a week in duration, and in some instances, travelers are starting their holidays today or Friday, to make a nice four-five day weekend.
Fort Larned National Historic Site west of Larned is bracing for the onslaught of visitors. Park Ranger Celeste Dixon said the fourth is one if not the busiest weekends of the year for the Indian Wars era military post.
Dixon said they average 200 guests per day over the July 4 holiday, with the largest number on the fourth. “That’s pretty good for us.”
“The 4th of July weekend is our busiest weekend of the year,” said Ken Kosky, promotions director at Indiana Dunes
Tourism, a top-rated state park by USA Today. “The low gas prices have played a huge role in the increased amount of
visitors we’ve experienced. We are showing an increase of 6 percent so far this year, so an increase of 5-10 percent for the
holiday is anticipated. We expect more people flocking to the Indiana Dunes this holiday weekend to enjoy the miles of sandy
beaches and the great hiking trails.”
Low gas prices spur travel plans
The average price for regular unleaded gasoline in Kansas now is $2.59, which is 95 cents lower than a year ago at this time. That’s a 27 percent drop in the average price of gas in Kansas, year-over-year. Nationally, that trend has resulted in tens of billions of dollars of savings for the first half of the year, and about $500 in first half-of-the-year savings for every American household. Moreover, Kansas now ranks 11th among all the states for the lowest average price for unleaded regular gasoline.
“Now that refineries have completed their spring maintenance, they are producing a lot of gasoline. OPEC is maintaining their production levels, we have a strong dollar against foreign currencies, with the Greek problems in the Eurozone, and this, coupled with the fact our Kansas gasoline prices are among the lowest in the country, bodes well for gas prices in Kansas for the near term, Hanni said. “Our close proximity to so many refineries in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, makes for lower transfer costs to supply Kansas gasoline,” he added to explain the position Kansas is on gas prices, relative to other states.
“The average national savings is 89 cents per gallon from last year and some states are saving even more,” said Patrick
DeHaan, GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst. “With gas prices the lowest they’ve been in years, this is the time to visit a
place that is a little off the beaten path.”