so what makes summer driving so dangerous?
On the surface, driving through a summer heat wave seems quite serene compared to a winter whiteout. But according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the month of August had the second highest number of fatal car accidents in 2014, with 3,037 (right behind October’s 3,068). What’s more, June, July, and September each had over 2,800 fatal accidents themselves.
Here are a handful of reasons why summer often trumps winter in the danger department.
More teens on the road
When school’s out, more teen drivers hit the roads. Sadly, more teen drivers on the road can mean more danger for the rest of us. The unavoidable lack of experience (we’ve all been there) can lead to questionable judgment that can increase the risk of an accident. And data shows that teens are more likely to be involved in accidents than other age groups.
Drivers on vacation add to road congestion
We all have our favorite summer destinations, and suffering through traffic jams is the price we gladly pay for getting there. Congested roads make for harder driving conditions and the potential for road rage, so plan ahead. (And watch out for those impatient drivers who might cut you off.)
Vacationing drivers are often unfamiliar with the roads, as well, which can lead to erratic or unpredictable driving (especially when there’s something cool to look at). And because they’re unfamiliar, they may drive too slowly.
Summer can do a number on your tires. As AAA explains, hot weather causes the air inside your tires to expand, which can lead to a blowout in well-worn wheels. Check your tires on a regular basis during the summer months, especially during heat waves.
Summertime is a popular time for road construction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that construction and maintenance work zones averaged 773 driving fatalities per year from 2005 through 2014. Always be a little extra cautious when you drive around construction zones.
More bicycles and motorcycles on the road
Many cyclists and bikers take advantage of the warm weather by finally getting their vehicles out of the garage and onto the streets, which makes sharing the road a priority for drivers.
Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous. The IIHS reports that 720 cyclists were involved in fatal accidents with motor vehicles in 2014 alone.
Sun and excess heat
The scorching summer sun can dehydrate you on long drives, so keep a bottle of water handy.
And of course, the chance of your engine overheating increases, especially if you have to rely on your air conditioner to keep yourself from overheating. If your engine overheats, pull over to let it cool down.
avoiding the summertime driving blues
In spite of all its glorious perks, summer can be a dangerous time to drive. Season-specific variables like more teens on the road and more work zones conspire to jeopardize that easy, breezy summer feeling.
By knowing what you might encounter, you can keep yourself safe and enjoy the better weather.