It's Peak Season for Vehicle Fires

Calling attention to a June 2010 NFPA report about vehicle fires, State Farm recently posted an item on its website combining the back-to-school season with fire stats. The resulting picture is alarming, especially with so many Americans keeping their motor vehicles longer and, in some cases, deferring maintenance to save money.

Citing the report by Marty Ahrens of the NFPA Fire Analysis & Research Division, State Farm warns that:

  • On average, one person dies every day in the United States from a vehicle fire.
  • Those ages 15-24 are at greatest risk of a highway vehicle fire death or injury.
  • July and August are the peak months, with Friday evening rush hour traffic the most likely period for a highway vehicle fire.

Ahrens' report said there were an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year nationwide from 2003 through 2007, causing an average of 480 civilian deaths, 1,525 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage.

State Farm, based in Bloomington, Ill., recommends that young adult drivers to add these basic auto maintenance tips to their back-to-school checklist:

  • An ounce of prevention -– Have the vehicle inspected by a trusted professional automotive technician, especially before a long trip.
  • Start a habit –- Each time you fill up your gas tank, inspect the auto's fluid levels (oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid) and look for leaks and deteriorated lines/hoses.
  • Look down –- Look at the ground where the car was parked to see whether fluids are leaking.
  • Keep it clean -– Have the engine degreased to cut down on the buildup of oil and grease.
  • Look, listen, and smell -– Is the car trying to speak to you? Pay attention to noises, odors, and your car's instrument panel. If you notice anything unusual, have it checked by a technician immediately.
  • Ease up –- During hot weather, your vehicle can run hotter than usual. Avoid heavy stop-and-go traffic and aggressive driving habits.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Aug 10, 2010