by WEX Fleet
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the summer months and early fall are the most dangerous times for drivers to be on the road. Winter months may bring slippery road conditions like snow and ice, but the summer months bring a host of different perils that add up to more accidents and more fatalities. In this blog, we provide insight and suggestions to help fleet drivers navigate the dangers of summer driving.
1. Road Construction
As far as fleet drivers are concerned, there are two seasons - winter and construction. The orange barrels and cones sprout up as quickly as weeds in a garden. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there were 799 work zone fatalities in 2017 and 782 in 2016. And there were approximately 94k work-zone-related accidents resulting in 37k injuries. To avoid becoming one of these statistics, fleet drivers should: obey the signs, slow down, plan ahead, and stay focused.
2. Summer Vacation
Summer brings great weather, and the kids are out of school. Drivers take to the roads in droves for summer vacations, holidays, and functions with family and friends. These drivers can be less familiar with their surroundings which can lead to erratic behaviors like sudden lane changes or stops. Maps, navigation systems, and unsettled passengers may also lead to distracted driving. The longer days and dehydration can lead to an increase in drowsy driving. Increased social activities in the summer may also lead to an increase in impaired drivers. Drunk driving accidents account for nearly one-third of all vehicle fatalities. So, train drivers to stay aware and report any drivers they suspect are driving under the influence.
3. Mother Nature
In addition to the increased traffic and construction during the summer months, mother nature can add even more driving perils. Some of these include:
- Severe storms: Road conditions during a severe thunderstorm can be very hazardous. Oil and grime on the road surface combined with fresh rainfall and/or hail can create more slippery conditions than snow and ice. During a severe weather event, drivers should slow down, keep their windows clear, and, if conditions are bad enough, pull over.
- Wildfires: Smoke, heat, and flames may all combine to create perilous conditions for drivers. Click here for some practical tips for driving in wildfire-prone regions.
- Heat: Extreme heat can cause tires to expand and burst. Belts and hoses are weakened by harsh winter conditions causing them to break when they are subjected to the severe heat of summer. Checking them regularly before hitting the road can help keep drivers out of harm's way.
4. Teen Drivers
AAA refers to the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the 100 deadliest days of driving – and for good reason. More teen drivers during summer vacation means more accidents. There are nearly 1 million accidents involving teens and they are three times more likely to be fatal. According to AAA, speeding, drinking, and distracted driving are the leading factors in teen accidents. Educating teens early and driving by example is a good way to help minimize this serious issue. Train employees to drive defensively and keep their eyes wide for these young daredevils.
5. Bicycles and Motorcycles
Warm summer weather means more bikes on the road. Whether they are motorized or not, two-wheeled vehicles are more difficult to see than cars. The NTSB reported 783 fatal accidents involving bicycles and vehicles in 2017. And motorcycle fatalities occur 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other accidents.
The bottom line, summer driving can be dangerous. Remind your employees of these 5 perils before they get behind the wheel. You may prevent a dangerous and costly accident.