Driving increases over the summer time: therefore more people are on the road which increases the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents. Summer getaways or visits with family and friends can easily turn tragic as the result of poor safety decisions behind the wheel; drivers also must pay attention to vehicle maintenance.
Statistics show that July is the most dangerous month of the year for drivers in the United States. The long weekends see high spikes in the number of people being injured or killed on the road. The severity of road injuries also has a tendency to increase in the summer. August is the busiest month for major road traumas, including severe head concussions, spinal injury and brain injury. As the summer driving season gets under way, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging all drivers to pay strict attention to road safety, regardless of how long or how short the trip.
Risky behavior such as driving under the influence, driving distracted (cell phone usage) and speeding are the most obvious and well documented causes of highway accidents. The NHTSA has the following tips for summer driving safety:
Tire Inflation: Hot weather combined with under-inflated tires or worn out tread are a recipe for disaster, especially when vehicles are loaded with family members and luggage. Motorists should make sure that tires are kept properly inflated and mind vehicle load limits during the hot summer months. Consumers can check tire inflation with an inexpensive gauge, and should consult their owner’s manual for the manufacturers’ recommended pressures. While tire condition is important for all vehicles, statistics show that it is especially critical for those vehicles more prone to rollover crashes, such as SUVs. Owners of these vehicles, particularly if the vehicles or tires are older, need to exercise special care with regard to tire inflation and tire condition in warm weather.
Top NHTSA Safety Tips for Summer:
- Never leave children unattended in or near a vehicle. This is especially true in hot weather when the temperatures inside a car can rapidly climb to deadly levels. Parents should also make sure you know where your children are when moving a vehicle and pay particular attention when backing up.
- Always keep children, aged 12 and under, secured in age appropriate child restraints in the back seat where they are safest. For more information on child seat safety, please visit www.safercar.gov.
- Always buckle up, day and night and remember that law enforcement will be ticketing for seat belt violations. Visit the Click It or Ticket website: www.nhtsa.gov/COIT, for more information.
- Drinking and driving don’t mix. Learn how to spot and report a drunk driver.
- To avoid fatigue and reduce stress, drivers should get plenty of rest the day before travel and leave plenty of time to get to their destinations.
- Check to see that your windshield wipers and all lights are working correctly.
- Check your vehicle’s oil and other fluids to make sure that they are at the proper levels.
In addition to the NHTSA’s safety tips, it is also important to load your vehicle properly. Ignoring your vehicle’s weight limit affects a vehicle’s braking and handling. If equipment is not secured properly on top or behind the vehicle, items can fly off, severely injuring drivers following you. Be sure items are securely packed inside your car so that they do not strike passengers should the driver have to stop suddenly. Make sure the windshield and windows are clean to prevent sun glare.
In order to prevent heat related injuries, keep plenty of drinking water in your vehicle along with a first aid kit and snacks. Do not leave people or pets inside a car exposed in the sun or heat.