New iPhone application helps stranded travellers when road trip takes a wrong
turn into unfamiliar territory

BCAA offers advice on what to do if your car breaks down while travelling far from home

BURNABY, BC, July 29 /CNW/ - You're driving on the open road and enjoying the scenery with your family when suddenly, the warning light comes on and your car's temperature gauge skyrockets. Or, you've just stopped to see a tourist attraction and now the car won't start. Vacationing by car can be a wonderful experience but the best family road trip can quickly take a wrong turn if your vehicle breaks down. And nothing is more unnerving than breaking down in an unfamiliar area or in the middle of a busy highway far from home.

According to the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), members use CAA/AAA services about 20,000 times per year while travelling outside B.C. in other parts of North America.

Now, no matter the distance from home, BCAA members and other B.C. motorists can request for roadside assistance anywhere in Canada and the U.S. using the Canadian Automobile Association's (CAA) newest iPhone application - the CAA Roadside App which launched July 6 and is free of charge.

"Having your vehicle break down miles from home is not only inconvenient, it can also leave travellers feeling helpless," says Richard Gaspar, BCAA's road assist contact centre manager. "Vacationers are often driving in unfamiliar territory and it can be difficult to figure out exactly where you are. Some street signs are hard to read, or there may be no signs or mile markers at all to indicate where you're located."

Using GPS technology, the CAA Roadside App helps determine a motorist's breakdown location and automatically submits the coordinates to the nearest CAA/AAA call centre. By downloading and completing the registration process ahead of time, the BCAA membership number and vehicle information will also be automatically included in the iPhone App request for roadside assistance, making the request hassle-free.

"To reach our members quickly, it's crucial that we collect key pieces of information about the breakdown," explains Gaspar. "The iPhone application asks a comprehensive series of questions to gather valuable information such as a specific address or detailed description of the location, vehicle and nature of the breakdown. This helps roadside assistance providers locate the motorist immediately and ensures the technician is well prepared for the roadside rescue."

And, if the motorist wants to speak to a roadside assistance service provider directly, they just need to tap their iPhone and the application will make the call.

To help travellers find a mechanic shop when they're in an unfamiliar area, the CAA Roadside App also provides locations of CAA/AAA approved auto repair shops nearby.

To download the new CAA Roadside App, go to: CAA.ca/mobile or visit the iTunes App Store and search for "CAA Roadside".

BCAA also advises drivers to pull over in a safe location before using their mobile phone or the iPhone app to ensure their safety and that of other road users.

Whether near or far from the familiarity of home, experiencing a mechanical breakdown can be stressful. BCAA offers road trippers advice on how to keep their cool and stay safe during a vacation vehicle breakdown.

Before you hit the road

    
    -   Leave your itinerary (route, time schedule, accommodations) with a
        family member or friend.

    -   Carry a fully charged cell phone and back up battery. Make sure you
        have the car charger with you. If you have an iPhone, download the
        CAA Roadside Assistance App and complete the registration process so
        that your membership number, vehicle information (stores up to three
        cars) can be submitted automatically to BCAA or the nearest CAA/AAA
        Road Assist centre.

    -   Get a thorough tune-up on your vehicle before you head out to avoid a
        breakdown and being stranded in an unfamiliar area.

    -   Bring an emergency kit which includes warning triangles and a few
        light tools such as: screwdrivers, a hammer, an adjustable wrench,
        pliers, a flashlight, a can of WD-40, and a rag. Ensure you have a
        healthy spare tire, jack and tire iron.

    -   Keep one or more reflective safety vests inside the cab of the
        vehicle at all times in case you and your family members need to exit
        the vehicle during a break down. Many safety vests can be folded and
        stored in compact spaces. Make sure you can reach the vests without
        having to exit the vehicle first.

    -   Pack a good supply of water and a few snacks to avoid dehydration and
        take care of hunger while you're waiting for roadside assistance.
        Other good-sense items include sun protection, clothing for cool
        nights, first-aid supplies, and insect repellant.
    

What to do when your vehicle breaks down

    
    -   Consider you own safety first - if possible get your vehicle off the
        road and ensure all passengers are safe. If you need to pull over
        onto the shoulder keep your wheels turned away from the road.

    -   If you and your family members need to get out of the car make sure
        at least one of you is wearing a reflective safety vest. Exit the
        vehicle with extreme caution on the side of the car away from the
        traffic.

    -   If the area around the vehicle is safe and clear, place warning
        triangles on the road at about 45-50 metres prior to the scene if on
        a highway. Turn on your hazard lights to make your presence known.

    -   To avoid risk of injury move your family away from the vehicle and do
        not stand in front of the car. Never attempt to cross a highway.

    -   Take a look around you for any distinguishing landmarks, street
        signs, mile markers or exit signs. Make note of anything near your
        location that might help authorities or your auto club find you.
        Contact BCAA or the nearest CAA/AAA using your cell phone or the CAA
        Roadside Assistance iPhone App.

    -   Never leave passengers inside the vehicle with the engine running.
        This can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

    -   If you call for roadside assistance, ask the operator for the name of
        the technician and company that will be attending. When the rescuer
        arrives, ask to see a valid company identification. Make sure you
        understand any applicable fees or charges.
    

About BCAA

BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C., with over 100 years experience and gross annual sales of nearly $400 million from its membership, insurance and travel businesses. A BCAA Membership can be found in the wallets of over 790,000 British Columbians and in one-in-four B.C. households. For the past two years, BCAA has received the highest score in Canada for home insurance customer satisfaction in a J.D. Power and Associates study. And, for the past four years, BCAA has been named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association

For further information: For further information: Editor's notes: For further information, or to request an interview, please contact: Niela Melanio, BCAA Public Affairs Advisor, Office: 604-268-5342 (M-F between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.), Cell: 778-228-8859 (any time), Email: niela.melanio@bcaa.com


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