During this time of year, you may be busy daydreaming about your summer vacation plans, but don’t let that distract you from driving safely. Summer is the most dangerous season to drive, from traffic accidents between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Continuing our previous post on summer car accidents, here are five more common hazards of summer driving:
Long road trips, parties and days at the beach can leave you feeling tired. But drowsy driving can have serious consequences. It lowers your reaction time and makes it more likely that you will fall asleep at the wheel. According to AAA, two out of five drivers report having fallen asleep while driving at least once in their lives. One in 10 reports having done so within the past year. Driving tired increases your risk of an accident: around one in six fatal traffic accidents involves a drowsy driver. To stay alert behind the wheel, get at least six hours of sleep before driving. For long trips, take a break every two hours or 100 miles.
Scorching summer weather can affect your car’s engine, especially if you’re driving a long way or using the air conditioner. Be sure to change your oil and check your coolant, radiator, cooling fan and thermostat to prevent your car from overheating. If you notice that the temperature gauge in your car is higher than normal, pull over immediately and turn off the engine.
Warm summer weather often encourages people to walk rather than drive to their destinations, bringing more pedestrians to the streets and sidewalks. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable on the road. In fact, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes. Keep a lookout for pedestrians when driving in the summer, especially in urban areas and at night. Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and avoid passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, as someone could be crossing the street. Check for pedestrians more than once before turning.
Tire blowouts are more likely to occur in the summer for a variety of reasons. The hot air expands inside the tire, putting pressure on any weak or worn spots. Tires that are underinflated experience more friction, making it easier for the tire components to overheat. Check your tire pressure regularly and keep an eye out for any damage. Increase your tire pressure if you’re carrying extra weight as advised in your vehicle handbook.
When school is out, there are many more children playing outside during the day, often unsupervised. Children may run out into the street without checking for cars first. To prevent a terrible accident, drive slowly through residential areas and be prepared to stop at any moment.
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