Cars throughout Missouri — and other states affected by triple-digit temperatures right now — are failing and leaving motorists stranded on the roadside.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol says this is especially true in interstates, where people have been driving at high speeds for long hours. Even those whose cars are functioning just fine might find themselves hapless victims as cars go kaput and block traffic.
Captain Tim Hull says the patrol is reminding motorists they should prepare for extreme high temperatures just as they would for extreme lows. The first of several simple steps to keeping your car — and yourself — heat safe is to have your antifreeze checked as well as their belts and hoses.
“That’s a lot of what we see in the vehicles broken down on the shoulders,” he says. “Tires can also be an issue in the summer heat, they should be checked as well before and during travel as they get very hot from the road surface and can develop weak spots which can blow out. Also just like in cold weather your vehicle’s battery should be checked as the heat can have an affect on it just like the extreme cold.”
Most everyone has a cell phone these days, and Hull says it’s a great piece of emergency equipment for any traveler in the event of car problems or a traffic crash. The Patrol’s emergency report line is 1-800-525-5555 or *55 on any cellular phone.
“Troopers will respond to your location as soon as possible when you become stranded in any type of weather conditions and are very aware of the dangers of extreme heat and cold temperatures.”
Regardless of extreme weather, Hull recommends motorists carry an emergency kit in their car that contains some nonperishable type food and drinking water. In the heat of the summer it is always a good idea to have drinking water as well as a gallon or two of water for the radiator in the event of over heating, he says.
Summer is also when the patrol sees more traffic crashes occur during this season than any other.
“That’s because more people are traveling and have a false sense that roads are at their best,” Hull says.
The Patrol asks motorists to keep a few things in mind:
- Remember: There is a slippery film on the road when it starts raining. Slow down! When it rains your headlights are required by law to be on with your wipers.
- Kids are out of school for the summer. Watch out for them. They sometimes use poor judgment as pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Motorcycles are out this time of year, so keep a sharp eye out for them. They are easy to overlook.
- Don’t spoil your vacation by not being prepared. Make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the miles ahead. Know your route. Secure luggage properly. Take frequent breaks to stay alert and safe.
- The scenery is great, but don’t forget to watch the road.
- Missouri builds and repairs its roads in the summertime, so pay close attention to, and heed, construction signs and workmen.
Roads are buckling in the heat
Another roadway obstacle folks should keep an eye out for are ruts and ridges caused by buckling. Roads buckle in high heat when they don’t get a chance to cool off and contract or shrink at night.
Missouri Department of Transportation Engineer for the Central District, Travis Koestner, says there have been several “blow ups” on Missouri roads over the past few weeks. He says most of them have been fairly minor, four or five feet in size, but one particular incident on Interstate 44 in Laclede County was more than 300 feet long. In most cases, Koestner says crews will jack-hammer out the ridges and fill in the damaged area with asphalt. In Laclede County, he says contractors had to be called in to help make major repairs.
He asks motorists to call MoDOT at 888.ASK.MoDOT if they see a buckle or blow up so crews can fix the area. Motorists are also urged to keep an eye out for faulty areas in the road that can be hazardous.