Summer can be a great time to take a vacation, go on a road trip, and enjoy the warmer weather. But it can also be a more dangerous time to drive.
According to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “An analysis of fatal crashes between 1998 and 2014 found that summer and early fall are the most dangerous times of the year.” Furthermore, the data shows that July and August are the most deadly.
The reason behind the uptick in car accidents in summer is multifaceted. Summer tends to have more traffic from summer vacationers, more construction zones, unpredictable weather patterns, and negative impacts from the heat and sun glare.
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To minimize your risk of getting into a dangerous car accident, follow these tips:
1. Double down on vehicle maintenance
Extreme heat can take a major toll on vehicles, leading to tire blowouts, reduced braking ability, and other issues.
To avoid this, pay attention to your tire pressure and tread. Underinflation and worn tires are common causes of tire failure. Inspect your tires at least once a month to make sure you keep them inflated to the pressure level recommended by the car manufacturer. Perform the quarter test to judge the tread and rotate tires if you detect uneven wear across all four tires.
In addition, you should regularly check your brakes, cooling system, and other fluids. Car fluids include oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, and transmission fluid.
Lastly, your car engine belts and hoses are especially susceptible to heat damage. The summer heat can make them degrade faster. So inspect them regularly and pay attention to any bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts in the rubber. If you notice any damage, it’s better to replace the part sooner than later.
2. Watch out for distracted drivers
Since summer tends to bring more traffic from people on vacation, students out of school, and other reasons, it also brings more distracted drivers. Distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic deaths, and in 2021, it killed 3,522 people.
To avoid becoming a victim of a distracted driving accident, stay vigilant of others. If you notice a distracted driver, try to avoid driving near them.
Of course, some car accidents are unavoidable. If you find yourself in one, consult a reputable car accident attorney. They can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
3. Check the weather forecast
Depending on where you live, summer can bring thunderstorms, downpours, and even flooding and tornadoes. Such weather patterns can come without warning, so it’s important to stay on top of the weather forecast as much as possible. That way, you can adjust your travel plans and avoid driving in poor weather conditions.
4. Take care of your eyes
The summer sun can be hard on your eyes. Too much sun can wear them out and lead to driving fatigue. In addition, sun glare that reflects off the road and other vehicles can make it hard to see while driving. So wear some sunglasses to protect your eyes and make driving less dangerous.
5. Respect the effects of heat
Extreme heat can lead to heat exhaustion, drowsiness, and even heat stroke. Moreover, an overheated vehicle can cause your vehicle to break down and may leave you stranded.
So, make sure your car’s air conditioner works. Take frequent breaks and pay attention to your vehicle’s warning signs and dashboard lights.
Keep in mind that children and the elderly can be particularly sensitive to high heat levels. This is why you should never leave a child in a hot car while you run an errand, even if you plan to return quickly. A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Unfortunately, “about 40 children a year die from heatstroke, either because they were left or became trapped in a car,” reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “That’s about one child every 10 days killed in a hot car.”
6. Stock your vehicle for emergencies
In the event that your car does fail and you are left stranded on a roadside, it’s important to have emergency equipment on hand. Stock your car with:
- Drinking water
- Emergency triangles and flares
- A first-aid kit
- Jumper cables
- A paper map
- A car jack and spare tire
- And more
There’s much more that could come in handy if your car breaks down in the summer. Don’t worry if you can’t accumulate all you need all at once. Just start with what you can and build your emergency roadside kit over time.
The bottom line
Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas on how to drive more safely this summer. The goal is not to scare you from getting out on the road. It’s to help prepare you for the worst. So start with one tip and work your way through the others gradually. Then someday, you’ll be glad you did.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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