The Dangers of Summer Driving
Did you know that the months of July and August are the deadliest months of the year for car accidents?
Many people think that winter is the most dangerous time to drive because of the adverse weather conditions—snow, hail, and ice—that occur. It seems almost counter-intuitive that summer—with its clear, sunny skies—should be the most dangerous time to drive, but it’s true.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that an average of 116 people die every day in the months of July and August due to a traffic accident. In these months, the deadliest days of the week are Saturday and Sunday.
There are a few factors that make driving in the summer more dangerous than any other time of year: heavy traffic, an increase in non-vehicular roadway users, and an increase in teen drivers.
During the summer, more people are driving for vacations, family cookouts, camping trips, and trips to the beach. With more traffic comes more accidents: the math simply works out that way. (Your own experience probably confirms this; you’ve surely passed by at least one fender-bender every time there is a traffic jam.)
Summer also attracts a higher number of other types of roadway users, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Accidents involving these roadway users occur not only because more people are sharing the road but also because many motor vehicle drivers are not used to watching out for cyclists and pedestrians. Motorcyclists and bicyclists can easily hide in blind spots. Pedestrians can also be hard to see and can step out from the street at any time.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the increase in teen drivers—out on the road after the school year ends—is a major contributor to summer accidents. Teen drivers are less experienced and more prone to risk-taking: they speed more often, leave less distance between their car and the car in front of them, and wear their seat belt less often. Teens are also more likely to text and drive, an activity that increases the risk of an accident 23 times over. According to the CDC, teen drivers (those between the ages of 16 and 19) are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. In fact, a study done by the automobile research group AAA found that, over the past five years, an average of 1,022 people died in crashes involving teens in the 100 days following Memorial Day.
The statistics above may make you nervous to get behind the wheel this summer; still, while you can’t control the actions of drivers around you, there are ways to minimize your risk of an accident. We’ve compiled a list of tips, below.
Drive defensively, not aggressively. Never assume that others around you will react appropriately or follow posted traffic laws.
Maintain a safe following distance as much as possible. In ideal weather conditions, follow the “three-second rule.” This means that your car should pass a stationary object on the side of the road at least three seconds after the car in front of you does. If it is raining, double the time to six seconds: it will take your car longer to stop on wet roads. You should also leave more space between your vehicle and a motorcycle.
Wear your seat belt. Also, require that all your passengers wear their seat belts. Thousands of injuries and deaths are still related to lack of seat belt use. (If you are driving a motorcycle, wear your helmet and protective padding or leather clothing.)
Keep your phone out of reach while driving. Forgo sending texts and making calls while driving. If you must answer or make a call, pull over when it’s safe to do so. If you find this to be a difficult habit to break, try putting your phone on silent or storing it in the glove compartment. There are also many apps available that will prevent you from using your phone when your GPS indicates that you are traveling at driving speed.
Don’t forget to service your vehicle in the summer. This is particularly important before long car trips. Check your tire pressure: blow-outs are more common in the heat.
Take extra precautions on high-risk days. If you plan to drive on the weekend (particularly Saturday afternoon and evening) or on a holiday, give yourself more time to get to your destination and be more vigilant.
Sometimes, you can do everything right and still get in a crash. If you do have experience the misfortune of a car accident caused by another driver, the Cincinnati, OH personal injury attorneys at Casper & Casper are here to help.
Contact us today to learn how you can get the assistance and compensation you need to recover from a car accident.