Summer tends to be a time when many drivers exercise a lesser amount of caution on the roadways. This is understandable considering the conditions where the sun is out, the roadways are clear, family and friends travel together and everyone is in the holiday mood. For those of us in the New England area, driving through a summer heat wave seems quite serene compared to a winter whiteout. However, statistics present an interesting comparison. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), August actually had the highest number of fatal car accidents of any month in 2013, with 3,136 crashes nationwide. July and September each had more than 2,900 fatal crashes.
Why is Summer Driving So Dangerous?
There are a few reasons why the hazards and risk factors involved with summer driving outnumber those in winter. In the summer, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the roadway. Data shows that teen drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents compared to other age groups. Most of us take long road trips in the summer. Congested roads can make driving treacherous. A number of accidents in the summer are also caused by tire blowouts. Tires tend to expand and wear out even more in the heat. Summertime is also when motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians come out in full force and share our roads.
The Three Most Hazardous Driving Days in Summer
Any major holiday can get our roads congested and pose additional dangers for drivers. But there are certain days in the summer months that may prove just extra treacherous for those of us who like to venture out:
- Memorial Day Weekend: This weekend presents us with the trifecta of driving dangers – alcohol, heavy traffic and fatigue. Memorial Day is recognized widely as the unofficial start of summer. Since it is a three-day weekend, people usually plan on trips with longer drive times. And with alcohol consumption being high during this period, many road users are affected by DUI-related incidents. This year, there were about 33 million drivers on our roadways during the Memorial Day weekend, over a 5 percent increase compared to last year. When you have people who are tired, drivers who operate under the influence along with congested roadways, the dangers increase exponentially.
- Fourth of July: July 4 is consistently the deadliest day of the year for our nation’s roadways. According to the IIHS, between 2008 and 2012, there was an average of 127 deaths each Fourth of July. Just like Memorial Day, July 4 is dangerous because of drunk drivers and high traffic volumes.
- Heat Waves: Not many of us realize that high heat can actually cause traffic accidents. Heated black tops can do a number on your tires. When tires get hot they become prone to blowouts as well as tread separation. Hot weather can also cause drowsiness and fatigue among drivers. Dehydrated drivers are also more likely to lose focus on the road.
Accident Prevention During Summer
There are steps we can all take to prevent summertime car accidents. First and foremost, do not drink and drive. Do not drive when you are fatigued or drowsy. Stay away from heavy meals and drugs that can make you drowsy before getting on the road. Do not be distracted when you drive. Keep all personal electronics turned off or operating on hands-free mode at the least. Make sure your tires are in good shape before you go on a trip. Stay hydrated throughout your journey. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact our Rhode Island personal injury attorneys to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. Please call us toll free at 1-800-992-6878 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.