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While the slick, icy roads of wintertime might seem like the most dangerous time to be on the road, summer driving is just as dangerous. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2013, August had the highest number of motor vehicle crash deaths, followed closely by June and July.
Whether it’s due to more congestion on the roads, teen drivers, construction or any of the other dangers, it’s important to stay extra safe when driving this summer.
Before you Hit the Road
Safe summer driving starts long before you even put the key in the ignition. Make sure that you’re regularly performing routine car maintenance tasks like oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotation and battery checks. If you’re heading on a long road trip, it’s critical to get an oil change and tune-up before you go, to avoid any breakdowns while in an unfamiliar area.
Before you start your travel, whether it’s a big road trip for vacation or even your everyday commute to work, plan ahead. Watch traffic reports or do a quick google search to make sure your route doesn’t include any major delays or construction. If it does, make sure to plan ahead and account for any time delays.
The summer heat can do a number on your car, particularly your tires, so that’s one area you should be checking frequently. The hot weather can cause the air inside tires to expand, and if your tires are worn, it can easily lead to a blowout. Make sure you’re checking your tires weekly to make sure they are not worn out or over-inflated.
For a long road trip, make sure you prepare an emergency roadside kit. Include:
- First aid kit
- Flares, cones or a white flag
- Jumper cables
- A jack and spare tire for changing a flat or damaged tire
- Water – to cool down an overheated engine
- Emergency blankets and towels
While you’re on the Road
The summer months can bring a slew of new dangers to the road: unexperienced teenager drivers, construction, more bicycles and motorcycles and much more. It’s always important to stay alert when behind the wheel, but even more in the summer. Keep your eyes on the road at all times and never, under any circumstances text message and drive. If you’re on a long road trip, designate someone to answer phone calls and text messages for you and control the radio, so you can focus on driving.
It should go without saying, but make sure that you follow all driving laws – don’t speed, go even slower for work and construction zones, buckle up and much more. For long trips, make sure you share driving responsibilities with passengers and never drive drowsy. Stop as frequently as possible to stretch your legs, for restroom breaks and food and beverages – never try to eat and drive at the same time.
If you break down, make sure that you find a safe place to stop and don’t get out of the car on a busy highway unless you absolutely have to. Check out more car safety tips on what to do when your car breaks down.