Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer season, when people take full advantage of the warmer weather to head to the beach, pool parties, or backyard barbecues. Unfortunately, it also marks the beginning of the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, which run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During this time, there is a significant increase in car accidents, particularly those that involve inexperienced teen drivers. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, each year during the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, there is a 15 percent increase in the number of fatal car accidents involving teen drivers. All motorists, including teen drivers or experienced motorists who are taking to the road for a family vacation, are urged to use extra caution, follow the rules of the road, and make safety a priority when traveling during the summer months.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a 24-year study of car accidents that occurred during the summertime. They found the following results:
- Close to 30 percent more people are fatally injured in car accidents during the summer compared with accidents that occur during the winter.
- The majority of summertime car accidents involve teen drivers.
- An average of 260 teens are fatally injured in car accidents during the Deadliest Days of Summer in the United States. This is a 26 percent increase compared with the other three seasons.
- Each year, car accidents that occur during the summer cause billions of dollars in damage.
What are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents During the Summer?
There are a number of reasons why there is a significant increase in car accidents during the summer. Many accidents are preventable if motorists are aware of these risks and use extra caution when traveling. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of summertime car accidents:
- More teen drivers on the road. Summer break means that teens are done with school for the summer. It also means that there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the roads. According to some studies, teen drivers spend close to 45 percent more time driving during the week over the summer compared with during the school year. Their overall lack of experience behind the wheel, including knowing how to safely navigate heavy traffic, how to react to inclement weather conditions, and what to do if there is a detour because of road construction, increases the risk of accidents. Teen drivers are also much more likely to engage in distracted driving behavior, including talking on the phone, texting, and checking social media.
- Vehicle failure associated with extreme heat. It is very important that motorists make sure that their vehicle has been properly maintained and that it is ready for the hot weather. The rise in temperature can have a particularly significant impact on the vehicle’s tires. The air inside the tire expands during the heat. If the tire tread is worn and the tire expands, there is a risk of a tire blowout, which can be extremely dangerous if it occurs on a busy highway. The heat can also affect the battery, so it is important that the motorist makes sure that it is charged and attached securely. Other maintenance issues that should be checked include the brakes, fluids, lights, and windshield wipers.
- Increase in road construction projects. Construction crews tend to complete the majority of their road work projects during the summer when the weather is warmer. However, this means that there may be an increase in road closures, detours, and shifting lanes. This causes traffic congestion, particularly during rush hour or during the weekends. Inexperienced drivers can easily become confused about how to navigate the changing road conditions. This can result in an increase in rear-end accidents.
- Increase in the number of drunk drivers. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day are three out of the top four holidays that have an increase in car accidents. Unfortunately, many of these accidents involve motorists who were intoxicated at the time of the accident. Alcohol is often served at summer gatherings, but if a motorist is driving, he or she must avoid drinking or arrange for a safe ride home.
- Distracted driving. Teen drivers may be more likely to engage in distracted driving behavior, but they are not the only motorists who make phone calls or check text messages while driving. Regardless of who is driving, it is crucial that motorists avoid all distractions when they are behind the wheel. The phone should be put away so the driver can keep his or her attention focused on the road.
- Drowsy driving. Too much time outside in the extreme heat can cause motorists to become very drowsy. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, particularly if the motorist has been awake for 18 consecutive hours or more. If a motorist starts to experience symptoms of drowsiness, including yawning, constant blinking, trouble concentrating, and nodding off, he or she should avoid driving.
- Inclement weather. The warm sunny days are what people love about summer, but extreme weather conditions can also occur during the summer, including severe thunderstorms, high winds, and extreme sun glare. All of these conditions can make driving conditions hazardous, particularly for teen drivers who are not used to driving when weather conditions are poor.
- More motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the road. When the weather is warm, more people enjoy doing things outside, including going for a bike ride, taking a walk, and hitting the open road on their motorcycle. Unfortunately, when a car accident occurs, the motorcyclist, cyclist, or pedestrian often suffers catastrophic injuries because there is nothing protecting them from the force of the impact. Motorists are urged to use extra caution when sharing the roads with pedestrians, or people on bikes or motorcycles.
How can I Prevent a Car Accident During the Summer Months?
When traveling during the summer, motorists can avoid a serious car accident by keeping the following safety tips in mind at all times:
- Leave plenty of space between vehicles. Regardless of the traffic conditions or weather conditions, motorists should leave plenty of room between their vehicle and the vehicle he or she is following. That way, if the other car stops suddenly, the following motorist will have enough time to slow down or come to a complete stop without hitting the other car. Tailgating, or traveling too close to a vehicle, is considered reckless driving and can result in a rear-end accident.
- Share driving responsibilities. When taking long road trips, motorists should plan on sharing the driving duties so that one driver does not become too tired from hour after hour of driving. When switching drivers, motorists should take a quick break and get some fresh air before getting back on the road.
- Do not drive while impaired. It goes without saying that motorists should not drink and drive. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause impairments. When attending a party or event where alcohol will be served, motorists should arrange for a designated driver ahead of time or call a ridesharing service.
- Use extra caution. Overall, motorists are urged to make safety a priority and use extra caution when traveling during the summer. Weekends are particularly dangerous because of the increased traffic and the number of motorists who are likely to be drinking and driving. Motorists must pay attention to the road and the other motorists in the vicinity, obey the rules of the road, and avoid driving if the weather is poor. Parents are urged to have regular discussions about road safety with their teen drivers and demonstrate the behavior they expect from their child. That means putting the phone away, following the speed limit, and avoiding any unsafe or irresponsible behavior while behind the wheel.
What Should I Include in an Emergency Kit?
Even the most experienced and responsible driver can be in a car accident or get into a situation in which his or her car breaks down. When this happens, having a well-stocked emergency kit in the car can be extremely helpful and keep the driver and passengers safe until help arrives. The following items should be included in an emergency kit:
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Jumper cables
- Extra blankets and towels
- Change of clothing
- Cell phone charger
- Plenty of bottled water
- Non-perishable food items
- Extra medications
- First aid kit
- Basic tool kit
Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Advocate for Victims of Summertime Car Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident during the summer months, it is in your best interest to contact the Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident, determine who is responsible for your injuries, and assist you with every step of the claims process. Our dedicated legal team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve and will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. We are located in Springfield, Georgia, and we proudly serve clients in Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.