Car breakdowns reach record high despite boost in auto technology

In spite of the progress of car tech overall, the number of vehicles breaking down is actually spiking. According to Fortune, the American Automotive Association (AAA) tended to a record-high 32 million drivers with vehicle breakdowns last year. The main causes? A lot of flat tires, but also electronic keyless ignitions that sapped batteries and more.

AAA also found that relatively recent advancements like maintenance reminders and engine alerts haven’t lowered the amount of drivers stuck roadside. I asked AAA how drivers might avoid breakdowns, either through their own actions, or failing that, and what car OEMs can do to fix the mess.

When asked about possible tweaks with electronic key ignitions, an AAA spokesperson suggested that “consumers should keep their ‘smart’ key or fob at least 10 feet away from the car when it is not in use so inadvertent battery drains will be prevented.” Triple-A also advises that you “don’t leave the ‘smart’ key or fob in the car unnecessarily, or hang it on a hook in the garage next to the car overnight.”

AAA believes that automakers should go back to providing spare tires as standard equipment to prevent more calls related to flats. But the organization’s last piece of advice should be the most obvious.

“Overall, the best way to prevent roadside breakdowns is with proper vehicle maintenance,” AAA added. “While today’s vehicle technology incorporates maintenance reminders and dashboard alerts designed to prevent roadside trouble, drivers still must take action.”