It may seem to go against logic to an upper Midwesterner who has braved the ice and snow on the roads year after year when winter comes along, but there are more auto accidents nationwide in the summer.
The fact is that automobile accidents have consistently peaked in July and August, while January and February have historically been found to see the fewest roadway accidents, nationally.
Analysts will attribute the lower number of incidents in the winter to the fact that Americans travel by road the least number of miles during that time. It stands to reason that the less time you are on the road, the less chance of incident, even though it is true that most accidents occur within 10 miles of the person’s home. This should not discourage you from taking that summer road trip you’ve no doubt been planning since the first snowflake fell last winter. With a little vigilance and planning you can keep your trip safe and memorable for the right reasons.
Since the peak season is upon us, let’s run through some of the major factors that make driving in the summer so perilous, and what you can do to avoid the headaches and potential danger. Some of them are more obvious than others but really cannot be overstated. And never forget that in most of these cases the power is in your hands:
• Keep an eye on construction that is being done on the path you plan to take. Find an alternate route if the construction is heavy. It may mean a little extra time on the road, but even this can be quality time with the family.
• Another one that many people don’t consider when planning a trip is that you, as well as many of the people you’ll be sharing the road with, are on an unfamiliar road. All of this means your reaction to the unexpected will likely not be as smooth as you assume. It all goes back to, again, planning and knowing your route ahead of time.
• You’ve probably been warned that excessive cold and excessive heat can damage your tires as well as your engine. What is not so often talked about is how excessive heat and dehydration can affect your focus and cognition, and can bring overwhelming fatigue without warning. Please do not ever go on a road trip on which such conditions are likely, without a supply of cold drinks. If that is not convenient, fresh fruit is a good rehydrating alternative.
• If you have kids, you are likely well aware that they tend to find long car rides tedious and will announce their displeasure openly, either vocally or with outrageous displays of contortionism that even the seat belt cannot stifle fully. Nobody likes to stuff a screen in front of their kids to quiet them. Any activities that will keep them engaged that they can easily partake in while seat-belted in, will do a world of good for your sanity and safety. You know best what engages your children’s attention, so plan head for this and you’ll be glad.
• During the summer, pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, etc., really come out of the woodwork. All you can do is give them the space they require, since they are already there. At the same time, teen (relatively inexperienced) drivers will be out of school and on the road in larger numbers. There is no planning for this, so we all have to be more aware that they are there, and give people the space and time they need. It all goes back to the old adage that “you can never know what people around you are going through, so be kind always.” A good number of the accidents involving more than one vehicle on the road probably comes down to a matter of basic courtesy.
Please keep these tips in mind, and have a great summer, everybody!