By SARAH HAYES of the Forum
It’s another hot day in Saint Louis and Joe Blow is driving his parents’ minivan down I-270 on his way to his weekly psych class. He has the windows rolled up and the A/C cranked to the max, as is his radio. He is so focused on “Rack City” that he doesn’t notice how low his gas tank is until the minivan starts sputtering and stalling on the road.
Panicking, Joe manages to steer the rattling vehicle onto the side of the road right before the needle hits empty. Joe Blow finds himself standing on the side of the highway, wondering what he should do next and what he could have done to prevent this.
Joe Blow is hypothetical, but that doesn’t mean his story is an unfamiliar one. As the Saint Louis summers get hotter, the last thing anyone wants is to be stranded with no assistance in sight. However, many students may not be aware of what they need to do to stay a safe driver during these high temperatures, or the various resources open to drivers in distress.
For younger students in college, the dangers of driving are higher for them than for older, more experienced drivers. According to a 2009 study by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers under the age of 20 have the greatest proportion of distractions. Inexperience is a major factor in these accidents. Without the correct knowledge and understanding of how vehicles work on the road, younger motorists more than any other group are unable to make the correct decisions that lead to safe driving.
In order to cut down on accidents, college drivers should keep a few important tips in mind while on the road.
Tip # 1 Keep an eye on the weather. Whether it’s raining torrents or covered in snow, the condition of the road changes several driving factors. These include the speed of the car and the condition of parts of the car.
Tip # 2 Make sure to see the other drivers and what they are doing. It’s the difference between sailing safely through a green light and getting rammed by someone who had their turn signal on.
Tip # 3 Pay attention and slow down when passing through work zones. The workers are making sure the roads are safe enough to be driven on, so they should be respected and also kept safe by driving through their work areas at slower speeds than usual.
There is a certain level of preparedness college drivers should have when on the road. The trunk of your car is where you keep the essentials for smart driving. This includes a spare tire, local maps, jumper cables, water in case the engine overheats, a tool kit, and a fire extinguisher. There should also be a first aid kit, in case of injury.
For when the trunk essentials aren’t enough, there are services available that provide roadside assistance. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a national service that can be reached over the phone at 1-800-AAA-HELP by its members, which costs a fee. AAA members can also use the 24-hour service Road Service Online. Modot provides its own Motorist Assist which moves disabled vehicles off the highway as well as perform minor repairs. Drivers can reach them via *55 on their mobile; the service is free to all motorists.
You can call your own mechanic, as they usually offer their own roadside assistance services as well as towing. Ask what kinds of fees they charge for their services.
Florissant Valley campus provides assistance to stranded student drivers. Campus police regularly patrol the campus area and can assist with any emergencies. According to the school’s website, the Flo Valley police can help students with issues such as lockouts and jump-starts. Like some of the services above, calling upon the campus police does not come with a fee.