Summer Driving

July 4th - THE DEADLIEST DAY ON THE ROAD WINTER or SUMMER:WHEN IS IT THE SAFEST TIME TO DRIVE?

This is a good puzzler for your next safety meeting. The answer seems counterintuitive to everything we’ve ever been taught as professional drivers.

Year after year though, crash statistics show that the winter months of January, February and March are actually the ones with the fewest number of traffic fatalities. Summer and fall are always the highest. How can this be? Surely driving conditions are much more treacherous in winter than in the summer.

It’s not just the driving conditions – but how we react to them – or don’t react to them that ultimately determine safety. Driving safely is an attitude we adopt every time we get behind the wheel.

The four deadliest days on the road are July 4, July 3, December 23, and December 24, considering all years together from 1975 to 2002. Traffic fatalities spike at various times of the year, but overall show a slow, steady increase as temperatures increase. What do you think might cause these effects?

  • More road and traffic congestion during the summer?
  • Increased wear and tear on vehicles causing equipment failure?
  • Less vigilance behind the wheel during the more casual time of year?
  • Fatigue related heat stress from non-driving job activities performed over the course of the day?
  • Inattentiveness while thinking about summer vacations, time off work and chatting with friends?
  • Impaired driving due to summer parties and D&A consumption around the holidays (summer and winter)?
  • Accumulated sleep deprivation due to increased summer nighttime activities, longer days and less sleep?
  • Increase in business activity resulting in longer hours, "hot loads", pressure to meet production schedules?

The list can go on and on. The question is not only "How will any or all of these affect my driving safety?" but also the motorists around me?

This summer, remember to:

  • Keep rested, take regular breaks
  • Avoid over-excursion
  • Stay hydrated
  • Maintain proper tire inflation, brake condition and fluid levels
  • Perform regular pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections and operator checkups
  • Choose apparel that will keep you cool and dry while meeting PPE requirements
  • Expect the unexpected - Watch out for the other guy, especially around the holiday