Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Driving Hazards & How To Avoid Them

Summertime brings with it images of endless hours of fun in the sun. Some say that a little bit of summer is what the whole year is about! Whether that rings true for you, this time of year is not all fun and games. The sunniest of seasons can also be blamed for heat exhaustion, overheating and a higher crash percentage rate during hot July and August months. We’ve pulled together common driving hazards that occur during the summer and tips for avoiding them so you can stay safe all summer long!

Hazard 1: Car Breakdowns
If you’re planning a road trip in the next couple of months, avoid a possible breakdown by conducting thorough maintenance on your vehicle, such as an in-depth tire and fluid-level check. 

When it comes to tires, be sure to maintain appropriate tire pressure and thread height. You can easily check your tires’ wear when they’re cold. Inspect for serious wear by placing a single penny into the thread of your tire with President Lincoln’s head upside down. If you’re able to see the top of his head, then it’s time for new tires! If your tires still have some life to them but you notice some uneven thread, it’s time to have them rotated. Also, by keeping tire pressure at your manufacturer’s recommended level, it can actually increase your fuel efficiency—by as much as one mile per gallon of gas! Since tire blowouts are much more common during hot weather, pay extra attention to all of your tires during the summer.

If your oil needs changing, it’s a great idea to ensure your other fluids are replaced or refilled as well. Check your car’s transmission oil, brake oil, power steering fluid, windshield fluid, water and antifreeze to keep your car’s internal systems functioning properly.

If you are driving for an extended period, pack a road trip essentials kit that includes a spare tire, jumper cables, tools, a first aid kit, water, extra bottles of antifreeze and a flashlight. It’s best to be over prepared!

Hazard 2: Road Glare & Road Slickness
The sun has a way of playing tricks on your eyes. You’re able to manage glare by keeping a pair of polarized sunglasses on hand to minimize sun haze.

Roads can also become extra slick when it rains. Sun showers are actually quite common and can lead to danger when rain mixes with oil on the road. Remember that it takes roughly half an hour for steady rain to wash oil off the road. Beware of these slippery roads to avoid hydroplaning.

Hazard 3: Two-Wheeled Vehicles
Nicer weather leads to more bicyclists and motorcyclists out on the road. If you’re not hyperaware, you can easily miss a two-wheeled vehicle riding alongside you. These types of drivers are much more vulnerable, so be sure to always signal before you change lanes or merge with traffic. Leave at least a three-second delay when driving behind or near a motorcycle and no less than three feet when passing a cyclist.

Hazard 4: Young Drivers
According to statistics, summer months are the deadliest months for young teenage drivers.  While adults can just as easily be distracted, teenagers do tend to be attached to their cellphones. Not only are they less-experienced drivers, they are also more easily distracted. In addition to increased cell phone use, young drivers can be distracted while eating, drinking, talking or using in-vehicle technology. Lower your risk by being more mindful. Wear your seat belt and keep calm. Saturdays and early evenings tend to have more crashes than any other time of day.

Hazard 5: Children in and Around Cars
School is out for millions of children across the United States during summer. This means increased outside playtime for children on lawns, in front yards and in streets. While many vehicles nowadays have side and back cameras, children may not always be in view. Back out slowly and only when you’re certain there is no one around you. Slow down around parks or areas filled with pedestrians. Kids have a tendency to be oblivious about what’s around them and often take off running or playing without being cautious.

Heatstroke is always a heightened danger during the summer and can occur when a child is left unattended or unsupervised in a car. Even with the engine on, a car can quickly heat up in minutes, even when it seems the temperature outside isn’t so hot. It’s vital to realize that a child’s internal body temperature can rise about three times faster than an adult’s. Avoid this by taking your children with you each time—no matter how fast you think you’ll be.

With proper preparation and precaution, you can ensure a fun and safe summer next time you hit the road! Where are you going this year? In the comments below, let us know how you stay safe!

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