Summer driving is fraught with challenges. The combination of scorching heat, increased traffic and unpredictable vacationers can place enormous demands on you and your vehicle. That’s why it’s a good time to take a quick inventory of what safe driving is all about…and how your performance matches up.
Things go slower in the summer. There’s more traffic and a lot of it literally doesn’t know where it’s going. So, when that chance to make up some time finally arrives, the temptation to speed is great. But, the laws of physics don’t take the summer off, so please remember that stopping, turning and maneuvering are still problems at higher speeds.
Some summertime drivers get aggressive when they are hot, tired and frustrated. Traffic annoys them and they want to single-handedly pick up the pace by pushing everyone else out of their way. Unfortunately, it’s an ironclad invitation for trouble. For safety’s sake, maintain a proper following distance and give yourself time to react to problems.
Summertime traffic seems to invite the worst kind of driving: quick lane changes without signaling, cutting in and out and the aggressor making everyone else on the road react to create a safety cushion for themselves. Watch out for these dangerous drivers and reject the notion to join them.
Summer days bring more people outdoors, especially in congested towns and cities where pedestrians often consider the roadway an extension of the sidewalk. Scan both sides of the street when approaching intersections and when turning – either right or left, and be prepared to come to a full stop.
Summer is the busy season for tourism, meaning you’re more likely to encounter out-of-towners unfamiliar with the area, and motorists driving vehicles that they aren’t used to driving, such as recreational vehicles or rental cars. Stay alert, and give yourself time and space to respond safely.
Long road trips in extreme heat can stress your vehicle to the max. Proper pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections are the best way to catch unsafe conditions before they cause an accident, spot mechanical problems before they lead to unexpected breakdowns, avoid costly repairs and delays, and stay in regulatory compliance. And, while your vehicle may work flawlessly, others may not be so lucky. Be on the lookout for motorists experiencing overheated vehicles or tire problems.
In the height of the summer heat, the condition of the driver is just as important as the condition of the vehicle. Keep hydrated and take frequent breaks. Eat smart, sticking with small, light meals, and get plenty of sleep to help combat fatigue. Importantly, don’t ignore the signs of heat-related illnesses, particularly if you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure. With many drivers thinking only about the sizzling summer fun, it is up to professionals like you to set the best example with your own driving. Demonstrate respect for road rules, eliminate distractions and exercise proper decision-making. By doing so, you can help be prepared for all the challenges the dog days of summer can bring.