The Dangers of Summer Driving

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Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. From now until after Labor Day, millions of Americans will hop in their cars and hit the road. They’ll be traveling to visit family, to attend holiday parties, to enjoy a day at the beach, or to go camping or hiking or boating. Thousands of these vacationers, however, will also end up in a vehicular accident this summer.

July and August are two of the deadliest months, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with more car crashes and vehicular-related deaths and injuries than any other months. But why is summer driving so dangerous?

There’s no easy answer to this question. For one, summertime roads are more congested. All those vacationers have to get to their destinations and most of them will drive. The nice weather also means more bicyclists and pedestrians will be sharing the roads with cars. More people on the roads equates to more chances for something to go wrong.

July and August are the deadliest months for young teenage drivers. More teenagers are behind the wheel during their summer breaks. Teenagers are, for the most part, far less experienced drivers than adult drivers. The youngest of them are also part of Generation Z — whose attachment to their smartphones. Adults are also just as guilty of checking Facebook messages in a moving vehicle, so that means there are a lot more distracted drivers on the road during the summer months… During the same months that there are more bicycles and pedestrians on the road. We all know that doesn’t end well.

In fact, the numbers of car crashes has been constantly increasing (2017 was the worst year for car crashes since the 1970s). The fact that the use of smartphones has also increased during the past decade is most likely connected to that. The slow rise car accidents is likely to be directly related to an increase in distracted driving. The Centers for Disease Control

(CDC) estimates that 8 people will be killed every day due to distracted driving; over 1000 more will be injured.

So is there anything we can do to lower the risk for ourselves? Yes and no. We can’t always protect ourselves from other drivers, but what we can do is try to make the roads a little safer by being more mindful drivers ourselves. Here are some tips from the Department of Transportation:

  • Do not text while driving. Many believe that with no snow or rain, they can drive safely while replying to a text.
  • Make sure to wear safety belts (a high number of car crash fatalities are still related to a lack of seat belt use).
  • Be more careful if you’re driving on weekends or in the early evening on most days. Data from NHSTA suggests that Saturdays are the deadliest day of the week and the hour between 6pm – 7pm has more crashes than any other time of day.
  • If it’s raining, slow down and watch out for hydroplaning. We’re all hyper vigilant in the winter months about snow and ice, but wet roads can be equally dangerous. Just because it’s warm out, doesn’t mean that the roads are always “safe.”
  • Get your car checked out before a big trip and check your tire pressure. Blowouts are more likely in hotter weather.
  • During the summer months, students are on summer vacation so there will be more young drivers on the road. Always remember, you may be a safe driver but that doesn’t mean other drivers are. Be sure to be alert for other drivers.

Have a happy and safe summer!