Car on asphalt road on summer day at park. Automobile on highway
Driving through a summer heat wave may seem serene compared to a winter storm, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2014, August was the month with the second highest number of fatal car accidents: 3,037… right behind October’s 3,068. June, July and September each had over 2,800 fatal accidents that year.
The following reasons show why summer can be more dangerous than winter.
More teens on the road
When school’s out, more teen drivers hit the road. The unavoidable lack of experience can lead to questionable judgment that can increase the risk of an accident. Data shows that teens are more likely to be involved in accidents than other age groups.
Vacationing drivers add to road congestion
We all have our favorite summer destinations, and suffering through traffic jams can be the price we pay for getting there. Congested roads make for harder driving conditions and the potential for road rage, so plan ahead. (Also: Watch out for impatient drivers who might cut you off.)
Vacationing drivers are often unfamiliar with the roads they are traveling on, which can lead to erratic or unpredictable behavior. Whether they get distracted by the sights or they’re unfamiliar with the area, they may drive too slowly.
Summer can do a number on your tires. According to AAA, hot weather causes the air inside your tires to expand, which can lead to a blowout in well-worn wheels. Check your tires on a regular basis during the summer months, especially during heat waves.
Summertime is a popular time for road construction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that construction and maintenance work zones averaged 773 driving fatalities per year from 2005 through 2014. Always be a little extra cautious when you drive around construction zones.
More bicycles and motorcycles on the road
Many cyclists and bikers take advantage of the warm weather, which makes sharing the road a priority for drivers. Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous. The IIHS reports that 720 cyclists were involved in fatal accidents with motor vehicles in 2014 alone.
Sun and excess heat
The scorching summer sun can dehydrate you on long drives, so keep a bottle of water handy.
The chance of your engine overheating also increases, especially if you have to keep your air conditioner on. If your engine overheats, pull over to let it cool down.
Avoiding the summertime driving blues
In spite of all its glorious perks, summer can be a dangerous time to drive. Season-specific variables can jeopardize that easy, breezy summer feeling – so knowing what you might encounter can keep you safer, and better able to enjoy the nicer weather.