In many ways, summer is the perfect time to get out on the road. The weather is generally beautiful and the kids are out of school. Many families have a tradition of taking summer road trips. They get to spend quality time together and visit places they love or explore places they have never been before. While that is wonderful, there is one aspect to driving during the summer that should give people pause, and that is the dangers of summer weather.
What Are the Most Common Summer Weather Driving Hazards?
There are several dangers that await travelers hitting the highways this summer, and most of them are weather related. Here are the most common summer weather driving hazards to look out for:
- Overheating Engines – High temperatures during the summer months can lead to vehicle engines overheating. If your engine overheats, it can lead to your car breaking down, which is especially inconvenient and dangerous if you’re on a road trip. Overheating engines can also create a fire risk.
- Tire Blowouts – Just like hot temperatures during the summer can result in engines overheating, they can also cause tire blowouts. When a car has a tire blowout, especially if the vehicle is traveling at high speeds, it can lead to a devastating accident. Even if it doesn’t result in a wreck, it can still cause severe damage to the car and leave the driver and any passengers stranded on the side of the road.
- Storms and Wet Roads – Even summer has stormy weather, which can lead to wet roads, flooding, downpours, fog, and hail. Each of those is a recipe for disaster for drivers when they’re on the road. Wet roads, especially when it first starts raining and the water mixes with oil on the road, can make roadways slippery. This can make it difficult for vehicles to stop and make it easy for drivers to lose control of their cars. Flooded roads pose a drowning risk, and downpours and fog can make it nearly impossible for drivers to see while driving. Hailstorms can also make it hard for drivers to see, and the hail can severely damage a vehicle’s exterior, including breaking its windows.
- Animals – Many animals come out of hibernation just before summer, which means a higher chance that there will be animals that wander onto roadways. When animals and vehicles collide, it can be devastating for the animals, drivers, passengers, and vehicles.
- Motorcyclists – Summer can be one of the best times for motorcyclists to hit the roads. The weather is perfect for riding. However, there is also more traffic on the roads during the summer. The more cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the roads, the more likely there will be a motorcycle-vehicle collision.
- Bicyclists and Pedestrians – Like motorcyclists, summer brings out pedestrians and bicyclists. And like motorcyclists, the more cyclists and pedestrians out on the roads, the more likely there will be increases in pedestrian and bike accidents involving motor vehicles.
- Teen Drivers – With school out for the summer, curfews loosened, and beautiful summer weather, more teen drivers will be out on the roads. Teen drivers are inexperienced, more likely to give in to the temptation of distracted driving and are more prone to making mistakes while driving. This can lead to an increase in teen driver-related motor vehicle wrecks.
- Construction Zones – Construction projects that were slowed down or halted due to winter weather usually ramp back up in the spring and summer. This can lead to an increase in construction zones and construction-related hazards.
- Vacation Traffic – As stated earlier, during the summer, more vehicles than normal are sharing the roads. This means an increase in traffic and in turn, means more accidents.
Summer Driving Safety Tips
For every summer weather driving hazard you could face, there is a tip that can help keep you, your loved ones and others on the road safe. The following are a few of the top summer driving safety tips:
- Get a tune-up, oil change, and check your tires. Tune-ups, AC checks, oil changes, and tire checks can help you ensure your vehicle is ready to handle the summer weather. This can help you avoid having a tire blowout or your engine overheating.
- Look twice for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and animals. When we are in our cars and trucks, especially if we’re traveling at high speeds, it can be difficult to see animals, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. That is why it is important that drivers make an extra effort to look for pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, and animals when they are driving. It is the only way that everyone can share the road safely.
- Slow down in the rain and in construction zones. If you encounter stormy weather or a construction zone, drive with caution. In the case of stormy weather, the roads will be slick, and visibility will be limited, so take your time because the faster you drive, the harder it will be for you to stop and the easier it is to lose control of your vehicle. Also, make sure to replace your windshield wipers if they are worn out and turn them and your headlights on at the first sign of rain. When driving through construction zones, follow the speed limit and keep an eye out for sudden lane shifts, construction workers in or near the road, stop and go traffic, and obstacles in the road, such as construction equipment.
- Keep an eye out for inexperienced drivers and make sure your teen knows how to drive safely. Not every driver you share the road with is as safety conscious as you. Be extra cautious when you are driving in traffic. Keep an eye out for drivers who are speeding and driving recklessly and stay away from them when possible. Parents speak to your teens about the importance of driving safely and the dangers of distracted driving. Be mindful of your teen driving late at night and early in the morning, and of the number of passengers your teen transports.
- Be prepared for increased vacation traffic. Whenever you head out on the road during the summer, especially if you are going on a road trip, pack your patience. You may encounter heavy summer traffic, which can be frustrating. However, don’t allow your frustration to cause you to speed or drive recklessly. In addition, make sure you pack your car with essentials in case you are stuck in a long traffic jam. This can include water, a cell phone charger, coolant, a first aid kit, and jumper cables amongst other things. Also, don’t drink and drive and if possible, avoid driving late at night, especially on holiday weekends.
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