Almost half (44 percent) of Texas drivers say they plan on taking a road trip of two or more hours during the upcoming holiday season. That's according to the Allstate 2011 Good Hands Roadside Assistance Survey, which also found that drivers, despite having considerable experience with disabled vehicles, underestimate the chance they will encounter mayhem on the road.
The survey reveals that the average Texas driver has experienced more than five individual instances of a disabled vehicle, and nearly two in three have suffered some form of inconvenience or delay because of it. One in five Americans has been stranded for more than two hours due to a disabled vehicle. Yet 80 percent of Texas drivers say it's not likely that they would find themselves in a situation where their car is not drivable due to a mechanical breakdown or a number of other common problems. This sense of security is even shared by 82 percent of American drivers who have personally experienced four or more such situations.
Despite what drivers say they think will happen, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of Texans have experienced an auto breakdown or other situation: Seventy-one percent have experienced a flat tire, 70 percent have had a dead car battery, 64 percent had a car that wouldn't start, and 57 percent have been in an accident. Fifty-nine percent say they have locked keys in the car, 34 percent have run out of gas.
Maintenance has its benefits
Many occurrences of disabled vehicles happen as a result of unforeseen accidents, unavoidable circumstances, or simply bad luck – situations over which drivers have little or no control. But the survey reveals there may be a correlation between how frequently Texas drivers have routine maintenance performed on their vehicles and the occurrence of a disabled vehicle. 66 percent of Texas drivers say they keep up with all routine maintenance and service on their car.
Nationally, of the 62 percent who report regular maintenance, an average of 3.7 occurrences, while drivers who report less frequent maintenance and service report 5.7 occurrences. Nationally, drivers who keep up with all routine maintenance are less likely than those who don't keep up with all maintenance to have: Had a dead battery (72 percent versus 87 percent) Had a car that would not start (62 percent versus 80 percent) Run out of gas (33 percent versus 46 percent) One in five Texans (20 percent) say the economic downturn has caused them to delay or skip routine maintenance of their car.
Mr. and Ms. Fix-it Drivers in Texas express a high level of confidence in their own ability to fix common problems that can occur to their cars while driving. Solid majorities of residents say they're confident in their ability to fix the following problems by themselves without help from another person: a flat tire (75 percent confident), an empty gas tank (90 percent), a dead battery (78 percent), keys locked in the car (77 percent), and a blown fuse (63 percent).
Survival of the most prepared
Just 49 percent of Texas drivers say they're confident that they would be able to survive with the items currently in their car if they were stranded for up to three days. While most Texas drivers say they currently have the bare emergency essentials in their car, a much lower percentage report having the full list of recommended items, and many drivers say they're missing some crucial safety aids.
Ninety-one percent have a spare tire and 89 percent have a jack and tire iron. Sixty-one percent have a flash light, 66 percent have jumper cables, 63 percent have a cell phone charger, and 56 percent have a basic automotive tool kit. Forty-four percent have a first aid kit and 35 percent have a warm blanket. Just 25 percent say they have emergency drinking water, 18 percent say they have flares, and only 12 percent say they have emergency food.
Who you gonna call?
Fewer than a quarter Texans drivers say that their first instinct would be to call a roadside assistance service in the case of a disabled or undrivable vehicle during their average daily driving. In the case of a disabled vehicle far from home, however, Texas drivers would be more than twice as likely to call a roadside assistance service.
So who are they calling?
Forty-five percent say they would call a friend or family member, while 27 percent would try to fix the problem themselves. Three percent would call the police, wait for other emergency assistance or flag down another driver.
Roadside assistance by the numbers
Fifty-three percent of Texas residents say they belong or subscribe to a roadside assistance service, but roadside assistance service membership varies by household income level. Sixty-two percent of those who subscribe to a roadside assistance service have used it at least once, and 12 percent have used it five times or more.
About the Survey
The survey of American drivers age 18 and over was conducted October 12-17, 2011, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults reached via landline and cell phone. The margin of error for the national sample of drivers is +3.1 percent. Additional interviews were conducted in 12 states (Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington). In the state of Texas, additional interviews were conducted in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The margin of error for oversampled states is +9.8 percent. The survey was conducted by FTI Consulting, Inc. (FTI) for Allstate.
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