On the surface, driving in the summer seems quite serene compared to the icy conditions of winter driving. However the dangers of summer driving are more deceptive than icy roads and whiteouts. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), August had the highest number of fatal car accidents of any month in 2013 – totaling 3,136. Furthermore, July and September each had over 2,900 fatal accidents.
There are numerous factors that contribute to summer being the most dangerous time to be driving. For example, summertime marks Chicago’s peak tourist season with travelers from around the country hoping to take advantage of the warm weather. Vacationing drivers are unfamiliar with the roads and lead to erratic or unpredictable driving. Summer is also a popular time for road construction. It is important to be a little extra cautious when you drive around construction zones. Further, school is out so more teen drivers are on the roads and unfortunately that leads to an increase risk of an accident due to their unavoidable lack of experience. Additionally, there are many more cyclists and bikes on the roadways during the summer months which can make driving more dangerous – not only for you but the cyclists and other drivers as well.
Here are some tips to help you drive safely during the hot summer months.
Drive at a Moderate Speed
Driving slower on the highway is one way to avoid danger. A speeding car is harder to control, takes more time to brake, and reduces a driver’s reaction time. Also, the seriousness of a crash increases dramatically with higher speeds. A crash at sixty miles an hour causes more than twice the impact of a crash at forty miles an hour. Furthermore, people should not drive on rural, undivided highways like they do on freeways. Going too fast on rural, undivided highways can be particularly dangerous because of blind curves, no medians, and lots of trees that negatively impact visibility. Also, don’t drive too close to other cars. Leaving plenty of room increases your reaction time. You may want to leave even more space between a motorcycle and your car. Because motorcycles are lighter, they will be able to stop more quickly than a car.
Additionally, you should make sure that your tires are properly inflated and not excessively worn as summer can be hard on your tires. The hot weather causes the air inside your tires to expand which can lead to a blowout if your tires are worn. Moreover, underinflated tires affect handling and can overheat, causing performance issues. You should drive slower during wet conditions because your car’s tires don’t have the same grip they would on dry pavement. Finally, do not drive on tires where the tread is excessively worn. According to tests conducted by Consumer Reports, half-worn tires showed a significant drop in grip during wet conditions. For these reasons it is important to check your tires on a regular basis during the summer months.
Visibility is very important for highway safety. Allstate recommends that you should turn on your headlights when the sun sets or any time you use your windshield wipers. Your windshield, windows, and exterior lights should all be clean as well.
Make sure you are getting enough rest. You should stop and get out of the car every couple hours in order to avoid drowsy driving. Also, if you’re traveling with someone else, make sure to rotate drivers. If you’re yawning or starting to drift between lanes, you should find a hotel and get some sleep.
Plan ahead before you drive. Pay attention to the weather forecast for your destination, so you can avoid storms or other regional dangers that could affect your safety. And do not let your gas tank get too low. It is also a good idea to keep a bottle handy as the summer sun can dehydrate you on long drives.
Avoid Impairment and Distractions
Finally, do not drive under the influence of alcohol and avoid distractions. If you have been drinking, make sure that you make plans so that you do not drive home. Also, avoid distracted driving by refraining from using your cell phone or other electronic devices while you drive.
Contact the experienced Chicago accident attorneys at Stein & Shulman, LLC who have successfully represented those injured in car accidents in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Call us today for your free case evaluation at (312) 422-0500.