Safe Summer Driving: Five Things To Watch
With no blowing snow or ice on which to skid, you’d think summer would be the least risky time for drivers to be on the road. There are no springtime thundershowers or autumn temperature swings. Hot weather comes with its own set of risks, however, and drivers need to be aware of them.
Summertime Hazards You Might Be Forgetting
School-aged children are the most important thing for drivers to watch for during the summer months. With school out and sunny weather to enjoy, children will be out in droves – on bicycles, skateboarding or playing street hockey, activities that distract their attention from traffic safety.
Teen drivers, meanwhile, will also be out testing their motoring skills. They are often inexperienced and don’t make the best decisions on the road, so be prepared for their unconventional driving behavior.
Motorcycles have been parked in garages all winter and riders will be itching to use them, perhaps even weaving in and out of traffic. Use care when passing these fast-moving vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 4,612 motorcyclists were killed in 2011 – a 2 percent increase over 2010.
Road Construction is busiest during the summer, and it’s vitally important to be alert to road crews. When traffic is squeezed into fewer lanes , impatient drivers can put everyone at risk. Speed limits in these zones are often reduced and traffic can come to a halt without much warning. Make sure to double-check your mirrors to be aware of the traffic around and behind you and maintain a safe following distance.
Vacation Traffic helps to make weekends the busiest time on freeways as families head to the beach, cottage or other fun destinations. Cargo might be piled high in their trunks and they may be too excited about their vacation to pay attention to the road.
Heat stress is triggered in hot, humid conditions and can happen to anyone when the body’s natural cooling system is overloaded. It can result in cramps, a heat rash, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Drivers enclosed in a small space like the cab of truck can experience this heat-related condition if the air-conditioning breaks down or if the sun is beating down on one side. To protect yourself, drink plenty of water and avoid coffee, alcohol and energy drinks that will dehydrate your body. Finally, always make sure your air-conditioning unit is functioning.
Don’t Forget Summer-Specific Maintenance
A thorough pre-trip maintenance inspection will keep your truck rolling. Check coolant and oil to ensure that the engine will not overheat. Tires take a beating on hot asphalt. New truck tires have 20-32nds of an inch of tread depth. Also check for 95lbs of air pressure. (NOTE: tread depth is measured by 32nds of an inch; not 30 seconds)
Summer is not the time to take a holiday from safety. School’s out, tourists and out-of-towners abound, motorcycles are weaving through traffic, road crews are working and the sun is beating down. Keeping these hazards in mind will ensure you get to your destination safely and on time.