The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that a higher number of car crashes and auto-related injuries and fatalities occur in July and August. Teenage accidents and deaths are at an especially high rate during the summer months. What are the most common summertime driving risks, and how can you protect against these hazards? We take a look.
This season, keep in mind that summer brings with it a number of weather-related changes and cultural patterns that make driving more dangerous. As the weather changes, so should your driving and road-safety practices. Stay safe on the road this summer by reading up on the summer driving risks below and our tips to help avoid these seasonal driving dangers.
Summer Driving Dangers
1. Tire blowouts
Hot temperatures can cause the air in your tires to expand. Even strong, fresh tires can blowout during a heat wave.
Plus, the colder weather from the winter tends to deflate tires. This means that tires often have lower pressure, and then the hot weather comes along and heats up the pressure. This can create tire flats and blowouts, which can cause accidents—especially if the tire fails while driving at high speeds.
Moreover, winter months tend to create an increased number of potholes. This also leads to an increased risk of blown or damaged tires.
Did you know that improper tire pressure reduces your miles per gallon? Save your car, gas, and expenses by checking tire pressure frequently!
- Check your tire pressure consistently and frequently.
- Have a spare tire in your car. Make sure the spare has the right tire pressure as well.
- Replace tires if there is uneven or excessive wear. Check the built-in wear indicators to determine when you need a change.
- Drive around potholes when possible.
2. Engine overheating
Like tire blowouts, high summer temperatures can affect your engine. If your engine overheats, it could cause a fire or breakdown that can be incredibly dangerous on the road.
- Check engine coolant, hoses, and belts frequently.
- Get oil changed each season.
- Make sure your air conditioning is working.
- If your engine is overheating, pull over immediately and call help. Wait for engine to completely cool, about 30 minutes, before restarting.
3. Construction season
Most construction happens in the spring and summer months. This increases roadblocks, traffic jams, delays, and detours. According to FHWA, there are one injury daily and one fatality weekly in a work zone. Plus, 73% of work zone crashes damage property—either your car or the construction equipment. This could leave you on the hook for liability, property damage, and more.
- Check out these 6 work zone driving tips.
- Slow to 10-15mph below the speed limit in work zones.
- Merge early before entering the work zone.
- Avoid known construction areas by finding an alternate route.
- Anticipate delays and plan for it in your schedule.
4. Rain and floods
73% of weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall. This is significantly more than all winter-related accidents combined.
This is because rain can impact the vehicle’s performance, driver behavior, and uncontrollable speed. Cars can’t stop or speed up as easily on wet roads, which can lead to inaccurate timing and loss of control. Puddles cut down on tire traction, leading to hydroplaning and fishtailing.
Plus, drivers tend to have more erratic and nervous behavior in the rain, which is a major contributor to accidents.
- Be especially aware in the first few minutes after it starts raining. This is when the pavement is slipperiest.
- If you start hydroplaning, turn into the spin until you regain control of the wheel.
- Turn on your windshield wipers at the first sign of rain.
- Replace your wiper blades in the spring so they better clear water.
- Consistently check and maintain windshield wiper fluid.
- Follow these tips for driving in thunderstorms.
5. Hail season
Summer is also hail season. Even small hail particles can shatter windshields and impair driving ability. Hail can cause pockmarks in your car’s exterior or even completely shatter and dent it altogether.
- Be aware of predicted weather conditions before you drive.
- Take extra precautions if you’re in a hail-belt state like Wyoming, Colorado, Missouri, or Kansas.
- Pull over when it starts to hail. Take cover in the backseat, away from windows.
- Stay in the car to protect from hail injuring you.
Animals may be coming out of hibernation for mating season, so there are more animals crossing the streets and causing accidents. Hitting or swerving around animals causes thousands of accidents every year.
- Be more aware at dawn and dusk, when most animals (especially deer) are most active.
- Don’t swerve into oncoming traffic.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Take note of animal crossing or warning signs.
- Use your headlights and high beams when driving at night. Look for eyes reflecting of the light.
Bikers shake off the winter and start riding (recreationally and commuting) in the summer. But bicyclists can be difficult to see, especially in blind spots. They’re also more vulnerable in a crash, increasing the number of serious injuries and fatalities.
Bicyclists accounted for 2.2% of traffic deaths in 2016, totaling 840 deaths. Most deaths occurred in urban areas and between 6pm and 9pm.
- Give bikers at least 3 feet of clearance when passing. Treat bikes like slow-moving vehicles.
- Be aware when opening car doors, making turns, and changing lanes.
- Understand the local bike rules.
- Be patient.
- Follow these bike safety tips.
Motorcyclists also come out in the summer. Like bicyclists, motorcyclists are exposed and vulnerable to accidents, but they’re also moving at faster speeds. It can also be challenging to estimate a motorcycles speed, and they can easily disappear into your blind spot.
In fact, motorcyclist deaths occur 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other accidents. A major contributor for motorcycle deaths is alcohol.
- Follow motorcycles at a greater distance. Motorcycles can stop faster than cars.
- Be careful when making turns, especially left turns. Check your blind spots multiple times.
- Dim headlights when motorcyclists are coming in the other direction.
- Check out these safety tips for drivers sharing the road with motorcycles.
There are more people outside in the summer months, which calls for greater awareness by drivers. The number of distracted walkers on their mobile phones is also increasing, causing pedestrians to dangerously pop out (often not at crosswalks) at a more frequent rate.
- Check twice for pedestrians before turning.
- Be especially aware in urban areas.
- Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. They could be waiting for pedestrians to pass.
- Watch for distracted walkers who are on their phone while crossing the street.
10. Teen drivers
There are more teens on the road in summer, and curfews tend to be more relaxed. Teens are inexperienced and more reckless, and they have a tendency to be glued to their phone, which creates a more hazardous road for all. The summer has actually been dubbed the 100 Deadly Days because teen driving is so dangerous during this time.
- Show your teens this infographic.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving.
- Implement driving curfews.
- Limit the number of teens driving in the car at once. (Risk increases for each additional passenger.)
- Avoid these five teen-driving risks.
11. Vacation traffic
People are taking off work and heading out on their vacation trips. This increases the traffic on the road. The more traffic, the higher the likelihood of an incident.
But this vacationing also brings other concerns. Drivers tend to be more distracted, on their phones or chatting with friends. The rate of intoxicated driving also increases, especially on weekends. Drowsy driving is also more common due to dehydration and longer days.
Distracted, drunk, and drowsy are the most dangerous types of drivers—and they’re all more common in the summer.
You want to be especially aware during holidays like Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekend. These have the highest incidents of car accidents, especially fatal ones.
- Stay hydrated. Keep extra water in your car.
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Avoid driving late at night on the weekends.
- Avoid driving during holiday weekends.
- Don’t risk it. Take a cab, Uber, or call a friend if you are too tired, dehydrated, or intoxicated to drive.
Always have an emergency road kit on hand in case you run into any of these summer dangers. Your road kit should include:
- Cell phone with charger
- Phone number of insurance company and AAA
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Jack and mat for changing tire
- Basic repair tools, like duct tape
- Nonperishable food
- Drinking water
- Paper towels
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Emergency blankets and towels
Keep your eyes open. Take driving precautions. Remember that, even in the fun of the sun, driving can be dangerous if taken lightly.
One great way to protect against the above summer hazards is with appropriate auto insurance. Collision insurance will help protect in the case of collision with an object or another car. Comprehensive coverage covers damage by natural disasters like rain and hail. Liability coverage can help pay if you are at-fault for an accident that injures or damages another person.
Make sure your policy is ready for summer driving by calling one of our expert insurance advisors today at (844) 300-3364 to review your current coverage. We can help you compare insurance quotes and help you identify potential savings on your auto insurance policy!
Not by the phone? Request a quote or schedule a call with an advisor online: