With the Valley experiencing one of the first serious heat waves of the season, the Arizona Highway Patrol Association (AHPA) has released tips on how to stay safe on the road as temperatures begin to soar past the triple-digit mark.

“Think of your vehicle not only as an asset, but also an investment in your safety,” said Sgt. Jimmy Chavez, president of AHPA. “Your car is working overtime in this excessive heat, so it is important to change your oil regularly, ensure tires are properly inflated, and check belts and hoses.”

The AHPA guidelines emphasize the regular and careful maintenance of your vehicle as the heat exacerbates common problems drivers experience on the road. Keeping an eye out for excessive wear to the cooling system, battery and battery cables is an excellent first step in preventing vehicle breakdown and bettering the odds you will not be placed in a compromising situation on the side of the road.

Likewise, the heat can put extra strain on your car’s engine, causing your engine to overheat. If your gauge shows an overheated engine pull to the side of the road and wait for it to cool off.

Since your engine experiences additional wear your oil can foul more quickly than during more temperate seasons, so the AHPA suggests changing your oil slightly sooner than usual.

“The most overlooked vehicle maintenance issue is proper inflation of tires,” Chavez said. “Find out how much air should be in your tires by looking inside the driver’s side door or an owner’s manual.”

When possible, AHPA suggests you travel when temperatures are cooler to decrease the chance of a blowout, and checking your tires for cracking should be added to your regular vehicle maintenance.

It is impossible to account for all potential problems, however, the AHPA wants all drivers to carry enough water and first aid supplies for all passengers travelling in your vehicle should a breakdown occur.

If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, phone for help while remaining in your vehicle and wait for a public safety official or highway patrol officer to come to your aid. AHPA members will also be patrolling some 6,000 miles of road looking to help drivers in need.

Many of the tips given by the AHPA stress common sense when dealing with excessive heat, such as parking in the shade when possible or using a sunshade in your windshield to lower the temperature of your parked car.

“Use common sense when it comes to vehicle maintenance and operation,” Chavez said. “Patience and reason should prevail when it comes to negotiating through traffic during uncomfortably hot days.”

Last, but certainly not least, the AHPA stresses that drivers should never leave pets or children inside parked vehicles as rising temperatures can quickly prove deadly to those inside. Arizona is one of five American cities that has already seen a child’s death attributed to excessive heat inside a vehicle this year, and the AHPA wants you to know these deaths are entirely preventable.

For more tips on keeping safe on the road during summer, visit the AHPA website ahpa.com.

• James Gingerich, a graduate of Northern Arizona University, is an intern for the Tribune. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or tribintern@evtrib.com.

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