Your epic summer plans certainly don’t involve breaking down on the Interstate or dealing with a car accident. So follow these five summer driving tips to keep you safe on the roadways this season.
1. Be Prepared for Soaring Temperatures
High summer temperatures can be dangerous for your vehicle and for you. Both can overheat as the temperatures rise.
Take care of yourself in the sweltering summer months. To avoid heatstroke, stay hydrated and stay as cool as possible. Sip ice-cold water all day long and keep the windows down when you’re in the car to keep air flowing. Park in the shade whenever possible. And never leave children or pets in a vehicle for any amount of time during the warm months.
For your vehicle, the higher temperatures put extra strain on the systems that keep your engine cool enough to function properly. And the fluids required to keep your vehicle working (oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc.) evaporate more quickly in the hot months. So it’s important to get a quick maintenance check by a qualified mechanic to make sure your vehicle is in shape for summer.
2. Avoid Impairment
The CDC reports that more than one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2016. And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that these one million drivers represent less than 1% of the 111 million drunk driving occurrences American adults admit to in self-reported survey data from the same period.
And during the summer months (especially after the COVID pandemic kept most people stuck at home for over a year), people want to be out socializing and having a good time. Which often involves alcohol.
Never drive while experiencing any effect of alcohol or drugs. And never get in a vehicle with an impaired driver. Instead, assign a designated driver to get everyone home safely, call a rideshare service, or invite people to stay over at an old-school house party.
3. Avoid Other Impaired Drivers
Maybe you know the importance of avoiding impairment when driving. But what about all the other summer revelers on the road? How can you be sure one of them won’t run a red light and hit you while you’re following all the rules of safe driving?
Take a quick and affordable defensive driving course. A defensive driving course will teach you how to watch for other drivers, and how to maneuver around other drivers who aren’t driving safely.
And if you see another driver exhibiting signs of intoxication, call the police immediately. They can intervene to get that driver off the road before they injure themselves or others.
4. Stay Focused
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compiled national police-reported data from 2019 to find that 3,142 people died in motor vehicle crashes where distraction was a contributing factor. That figure is nearly 9% of all crash deaths.
During the summer months, we might experience more distractions than usual. Maybe you’re on a long-distance road trip with family or friends, in which arguments or road games can distract you. Or you’re replying to a text from a friend about weekend plans while driving. Maybe you’re just trying to scarf down a burger and fries while chauffeuring the kids between soccer games and pool parties.
There are lots of ways to be distracted, and none of those distractions are worth it. Put your phone away, plan adequate meal breaks, and focus on the road when you’re behind the wheel.
5. Take Advantage of Long Daylight Hours
Want to hear some good news about summer driving? The longer daylight times mean more hours of statistically safer driving! Nighttime driving is far more dangerous. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that “while we do only one-quarter of our driving at night, 50% of traffic deaths happen at night.” Lower visibility and greater drowsiness contribute to higher fatalities during nighttime hours.
So if you have a summer road trip planned, take advantage of the safer, sunnier driving conditions by scheduling your driving hours during the daylight.
Following these driving tips will help keep you safe through the busy summer driving season. Happy driving!