Summer Driving Safety Tips: Avoiding Dangerous Highways
As summer beckons and travel plans abound, it's crucial to recognize the risks of summer driving.
A survey suggests that 85% of Americans have travel plans for the summer of 2023. However, amidst all the excitement, it's essential to acknowledge the potential risks associated with summer driving.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, summer and fall are the most dangerous periods for drivers, with July and August being the deadliest months. While planning your road trips, it’s best to prioritize safety measures and take proactive steps to navigate dangerous highways.
Notorious Highways: Identifying the Danger Zones
Driving on highways can be a thrilling experience, but it can also be dangerous too. Below are some hazardous highways that you should be careful about:
Interstate 45 (I-45) in Texas
I-45, stretching from Dallas to Houston, has been ranked among the most dangerous highways in the US due to its high volume of fatalities.
According to AAA Northeast, the I-45 highway has an alarming rate of 56.5 fatal accidents per 100 miles. Factors contributing to its notoriety include heavy traffic congestion, challenging road conditions, construction zones, speeding, sharp curves, and prevalent distracted driving.
Interstate 4 (I-4) in Florida
I-4 highway connects the Tampa Bay and Daytona Beach areas and has gained a reputation for its high number of accidents, reporting 1.41 fatalities per mile. This highway is a popular route for local commuters and tourists heading to Orlando and its renowned theme parks.
High-speed traffic, heavy congestion, aggressive driving behaviors, and ongoing construction projects make it a hazardous route.
Interstate 95 (I-95) on the East Coast
I-95 is a 1926-mile highway that stretches from Miami to Maine. It is known for having a high number of accidents, with 0.89 fatalities per mile. Accidents on this highway tend to be severe and are frequently characterized by multiple vehicle and high-speed crashes.
Dangerous driving conditions result from bad weather, aggressive driving, heavy traffic, poor design and maintenance of the roadway, and constant construction work.
Equipment Maintenance for Safe Driving
Extreme heat can be tough on vehicles, leading to tire blowouts, compromised braking, and overheating engines. To prevent these issues during the summer months, prioritize regular maintenance.
Keep a close eye on tire pressure and tread, frequently check the brakes, and maintain proper cooling system fluid levels.
Quick Tips for Checking Important Components:
- Tires: Use a tire pressure gauge to measure the air pressure in each tire. Ensure it matches the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) indicated in your vehicle's manual or the driver's door jamb.
- Brakes: Look for any signs of wear or damage on brake pads, rotors, and calipers. Test the brakes for responsiveness and listen for any unusual noises while braking.
- Cooling system: Check coolant levels in the radiator or overflow tank and ensure they are within the recommended range. Inspect hoses for leaks, cracks, or bulges, and confirm that the radiator fan is functioning correctly.
Regular maintenance prevents breakdowns and accidents by keeping your vehicle in top shape. Checking and maintaining essential components in your car will minimize the risk of unexpected malfunctions on the road. By addressing potential issues early, you can ensure a safe and smooth journey under the scorching summer sun.
Dealing With Distracted Drivers
Summer roads usually have more distracted drivers, including vacationing families and beach-bound students. With more distractions in play, it's crucial to remain vigilant and watch out for drivers who are not entirely focused on the road.
Look for signs like sudden lane changes, slow responses at signals, drifting within lanes, or excessive cell phone usage. If you encounter a distracted driver, maintain a safe distance to minimize the risk of accidents and ensure your safety.
Weather Awareness for Safe Driving
Summer weather patterns vary greatly depending on location, ranging from thunderstorms to flash floods and even tornados. It's crucial to stay informed about the daily forecast for the areas you'll be driving through, as these weather events can occur suddenly and without warning.
When faced with these situations, exercise caution by reducing speed, increasing following distance, using headlights, and pulling over in a safe location if necessary. Prioritize safety by staying prepared and aware of changing weather conditions to ensure a smooth and secure journey.
Calendar Awareness and Increased Risk
Weekends and certain holidays carry a greater risk of drinking and driving, making it crucial for professional drivers to remain extra attentive to surrounding hazards. Specifically, July 4 stands out as a dangerous day with a significant increase in motorcycle and passenger vehicle fatalities. Indeed, 1,460 drivers reportedly lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic accidents during the Fourth of July holiday spanning from 2017 to 2021. Shockingly, 38% of these fatalities involved drivers who were under the influence of alcohol.
To stay safe during these high-risk periods, plan ahead and designate a sober driver, maintain a safe distance, choose alternative routes, and avoid distractions. Be mindful of the heightened danger, and take safety precautions to protect yourself and others on the road.
Dealing With Sun Glare and Eye Protection
Driving can strain your eyes, especially in the summer when bright sunlight leads to increased sun glare from the road and other vehicles. Wearing polarized sunglasses helps minimize glare, protects your eyes, and enhances visual clarity for a safer driving experience.
Additionally, keep your windshield clean, use sun visors, and maintain a safe following distance to reduce the impact of sun glare. Taking these precautions allows for better visibility and reduces the risk of accidents caused by impaired vision.