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Weather conditions this December far different than last year and drivers are getting caught off guard

CARPINTERIA, Calif. - With some decent storms already hitting the area , snow in the hills and roadwork  in high gear on the South Coast, holiday driving is going to be challenging this month. Maybe more than most drivers expected.

Drivers will not be alone out there with so many people on the move compared to the last two years, when a large percentage of holiday travelers were on staycation mode because of COVID.

The American Automobile Association says 2022 is expected to be the third busiest year for holiday travel since AAA began tracking in 2000.

The target dates are Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, but with schools out and many vacations starting next week, watch for some big changes onthe highways, at resort locations, and destination towns such as what we have on the Central Coast.

Drivers have been warned repeatedly to use logical driving decisions when facing road conditions that are not dry and clear. Especially in wet weather, muddy conditions or where construction work is taking place.

Longtime service station owner Don Risdon of Risdon's 76 in Carpinteria said, while looking over a damaged tire, "somewhere this tire had a puncture and the customer drove it and caused  what we call a run flat."

The Carpinteria corridor is one of those areas where the flow pattern is changing because of widening work.

In many areas, there's a chance debris from the gutters gets tossed back into the lanes, and you will pick up nails and screws, setting off a flat tire sensor alert on your electronic dash.

When temperatures drop to freezing or near freezing conditions some drivers say they also get a signal about a tire problem. It is usually linked to an under inflated tire and the pressure change by the temperature.

Proper servicing is important to make sure you are not stranded from an engine or other vehicle problem, especially in foul weather. This includes oil, windshield cleaning fluid, and good wipers.

A tire sensor light lit up in one vehicle and the driver pulled it in for air and a four-tire check up.

Leigh Beerman said, "yea the light came on and I understand it is from the cold weather. They said it decreases the air pressure in the tires."

One the side of the driver's door Risdon said,  on a special label, "the tires are indicated there both front and rear  what the tire pressure should be by the manufacturer."

On an off the freeway there's been a significant amount of construction and there's been related debris that's made it into traffic lanes.  At times it's also getting into your tires.    

"Our roadways are really  full of things out there to be obstructions  in your tires and your vehicle," said Risdon.   "You would be surprised how many tires every day we see  with nails, and screws and construction items in them."

Underneath a car that may have bottomed out a few times he said,  "suspension parts are good to inspect  to make sure that something isn't bent or damaged and check your wheel alignment and make sure your tread wear is is flat across."

Wipers can also be worn, or peeling apart and in the end they are ineffective.  They're also a quick fix.

The busy holiday season for drivers,  is in part encouraged by the falling gas prices.
Risdon dropped his prices Thursday across the board.  "The prices have been steadily dropping  you can  see today it's down to 4.39 a gallon which is a great price for regular unleaded in our area."

As a reminder he said, "check the oil, check the windshield fluids,  make sure your wipers are good make sure our tires are in good shape.   All those things will make sure you have a safe trip."

Article Topic Follows: Travel
road conditions
Santa Barbara
travel safety

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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