Summer is a great time of year – it’s nice and hot outside, the sun is shining, we have time to spend with our families and the weather is perfect for enjoying a delicious barbecue on the deck. While we have a lot of reasons to love summer, there are just as many reasons to be cautious during this time of year.
When it comes to car accidents, summer is one of the highest risk times of the whole year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), July and August are two of the deadliest months for car accidents each year. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, and today we’ll spend some time exploring what causes these accidents along with discovering some ways to prevent them.
Let’s go over what causes an increase in car accidents during this time.
Why are car accidents worse in the summer?
Car accidents are more likely for several reasons:
- Hydroplaning. Driving in the rain can be just as dangerous as driving in the ice or snow. Roads can become slippery fast, making it easy for your car to skid into another vehicle or a ditch. If your tires lose traction, you could hydroplane and lose control of your steering.
- Sleeping at the wheel. Those who are taking long road trips to make it to a vacation destination may be tempted to stay up for hours on end to get to their destination quicker, leading to the potential of falling asleep at the wheel. One AAA study found that 2 out of 5 drivers have reported falling asleep at the wheel at some point in their life, and 1 in 6 fatal crashes involved a sleepy driver.
- Increased number of pedestrians or cyclists. As the weather gets nice, more and more cyclists and pedestrians will want to get out to enjoy the fresh air. Drivers should be cautious of those who are on foot or on a bike, since they could easily become injured by a vehicle.
- Increased number of teen drivers. When school gets out for the summer, teens flock to the roads. Since teens have less driving experience, they’re far more likely to get into an accident during these months. In fact, there’s a period called the 100 Deadly Days refers to the 100 days after Memorial Day when teens are far more likely to get into a fatal crash. Keep an eye out for teen drivers, and encourage your children to be extra safe on the roads.
- Road congestion. During the summer, more people have the free time to go on vacation, leading to increased congestion on the roads. Plus, you’ll need to consider that in touristy areas, many of the drivers are unfamiliar with the terrain. You’ll need to be extra careful in places where traffic is backed up to avoid a collision.
- Alcohol impairment. Drinking is often a core component of many summer gatherings, increasing the risk of one driving while intoxicated. In fact, Labor Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day are three of the top four holidays where car accidents occur. If you’re on the road during this time, you’ll have to keep an eye out for any erratic behavior.
- Heat. When things heat up in the summer, your likelihood of having a blowout increases. Underinflated tires can create too much friction, overheating the tire more quickly on the heated pavement.
What can I do to prevent an accident?
When you’re out this summer, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Leave lots of space. No matter the weather conditions, you should be giving ample space to the car, bicycle, motorcycle or pedestrian in front of you. If you have to stop suddenly, you shouldn’t be close to hitting them. Always maintain a two second gap of distance between you and the object in front of you.
- Swap driver duties. If you’re taking a road trip with others, make a plan to swap driving duties so each of you don’t become too fatigued while driving. This will also allow you to build in natural times for breaks, getting you to your destination faster.
- Don’t drink if you’re driving. This one is obvious: if you’ve been drinking, you shouldn’t even consider driving. Not only are you putting yourself at risk, you’re endangering everyone else on the road. Use a rideshare program, take a cab or stay at the place where you are instead of going out on the road.
- Be extra cautious on weekends. Weekends are some of the worst times for wrecks, and Saturday has been proved to be the deadliest day of the week. If you’re out during the weekend, keep an extra close watch on the cars that surround you.
Have you been the victim of a summer car accident?