Summer Driving Hazards to Be Mindful of Now That the Warm Weather has arrived
Summer can be a very enjoyable season with kids out of school, more activity and adventure choices, road trips away or to the cottage, and much more! What most don’t realize is that even though the snow and ice are gone, there are just as many, if not more, driving hazards during the summer months they should be aware of. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common summer driving hazards to help keep you and your loved ones safe so you can enjoy the summer to the fullest without the worry of dealing with a car accident, personal injury or worse.
The slick winter precipitation has long ago melted and the dry roads are calling out to drivers with its false sense of security. Speeding is a main factor in many motor vehicle accidents, so as tempting as it may be at times to let the speedometer creep up, remind yourself that the risk is not worth the thrill. Not only does it severely affect your stopping distance, and often results in catastrophic injuries or worse in the case of an accident, but it also could lead to hefty fines or license suspension. So next time you’re feeling the need for speed, remember that summer driving should be enjoyed and road trips should be savoured so take your time and get to your destination safely.
Rain and hail storms
Summer can throw some intense storms our way, so if you’re caught in an intense weather system whether that includes rain, lightning, hail, or a combination of some or all of the above, be sure to adjust your driving behaviour to the conditions. If caught in an exceptionally intense storm and your visibility is limited to a point you are no longer comfortable driving, pull off to the side of the road and wait out the storm until driving conditions improve. Before being caught in a nasty storm, check that your lights and signals are all functioning properly to better your visibility and make you easier to see to other drivers. You should also ensure you have windshield wipers that are not damaged or worn down, and your windshield should be clean and clear of any obstructions.
Extra vehicles on the roads
Warm weather brings out more, and a larger variety of, vehicles that you should be aware of and adjust your driving habits for when necessary. These vehicles include but are not limited to bicycles, motorcycles, RVs, and trucks and vans towing camping or boat trailers. Any of the vehicles mentioned can cause drivers to have limited visibility and impact the field of vision making some vehicles harder to spot in mirrors or blind spots. When on the roads with a mix of some or all of these choices of transportation take extra caution and be sure to double check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes to avoid any dangerous or deadly run-ins. When parked, you should also check in your mirrors for any cyclists which may be coming up before you open your door. For their part, cyclists should always dress in bright clothing, obey traffic laws and wear a helmet. When in doubt of whether another vehicle sees you, use any horns or signals you may have available on your vehicle to try and catch their attention.
After a cold winter trying to keep warm, the spring, summer and fall months mean wildlife is on the move again. Be aware of the environment you’re driving through at any given moment and what wildlife might call that area home or travel through. In the case of popular deer, moose or turtle crossing areas signs may be on the road side warning drivers of the heightened risk of seeing some or all of these creatures. Even if signs are not up indicating the risk of animal crossings, you should always be an active and observant driver and turn on your high beams when possible to increase your field of vision. A good habit to have at all times is to wear your seatbelt, and it is even more important and can save your life if you are unlucky enough to crash into a large animal like a deer or moose.
Construction zones and workers
Summer is a popular season for road repairs to be made, which means you should be extra cautious when going through construction zones and note the change in speed limit, any increase in speed fines when workers are present and any hazards which may be present such as low hanging wires or change in lane configuration (both of which should be noted on hazard or road signs). Construction work can also cause a delay in your travel time due to the reduction of driving speed, and any traffic interruptions which may occur. If you are concerned about how construction may affect your travel, rather than increasing your speed and putting yourself and others in danger in a moment of frustration, plan your travel route accordingly.
Out of schoolers
Students on summer break means a higher likelihood of teenage drivers being on the roads outside of typical times you would expect to see them on the roads at other times of the year. Be aware of new drivers, and driving instructor vehicles, and adjust your driving behaviour accordingly and be patient as they may be slower or more cautious driving with their lower experience level. Summer break also means more little ones out and about enjoying the warm weather. Take extra care and be alert when driving through residential areas or around areas where you might find a higher concentration of children like parks, skateboard parks, splash pads, etc which might see kids crossing streets or entering the roadway to retrieve toys which may have gotten away.
Overheating and dehydration
The heat of summer not only puts strain on your vehicle and adds a risk of your engine overheating, but it also increases the likelihood of you becoming dehydrated and overheating. In the event of your vehicle’s engine becoming too hot, pull your vehicle over and turn the engine off allowing it to cool down, or for you to call for roadside assistance if required. To prevent overheating or dehydration for yourself and your passengers, bring a cooler with a few cool drinks if going on a longer drive, and use your windows or air conditioning to allow air to flow and cool the vehicle cabin area. If you or your passengers notice yourself getting too warm, dizzy, confused, disoriented or tired, pull your vehicle over at the nearest rest stop or a safe distance off the road to allow you to rest, take a break or grab a drink or some food to regain your energy and focus before getting back on the road. If a break and rest does not help you feel any better, seek medical attention as you may be experiencing more serious or further developed symptoms of overheating or dehydration.
We hope you keep these summer driving hazards and tips to avoid them in mind when on the roads this summer season so you can enjoy your summer to its fullest without having to deal with any serious problems as a result of an accident on the roads.