Summer — it’s the time of year most people look forward to. Long, sunny days at the pool, outdoor activities, and barbequing. The fun never ends!
But for law enforcement, summer fun has a different outcome. This is the time to be on high alert.
The 100-day period between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” on the road. Some of the contributing factors to the deadly days of summer on the road are:
- More teen drivers on the road
- Distracted driving
- Congested roads due to people traveling on vacation
- Increase in road construction due to warmer weather
- Motorcyclists and bicyclists increase
- Improper car maintenance after winter months
- More drunk and impared drivers
These conditions create a perfect storm for an increase in vehicle accidents during the summer months. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirms that the summer and early fall are the most dangerous times to be on the road in the United States.
They found that the deadliest months of the year to drive were July and August, with an average daily death toll of 116 people nationwide.
While this seems like a daunting task to take on, there are ways to help prevent these accidents and lower the death tolls this summer.
If you know what you’re facing and what to look for, you can help provide a safe and happy summer to those you protect and serve.
Here is more information on some of the road dangers to be aware of this summer to prepare for.
Increased Number of Teen Drivers
Teens have the highest crash rate of any age groups, and during the summer they are out of school and out on the road.
An average 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, which is a 26% increase from the other months of the year. And in 2016, more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver during the 100 Deadliest Days.
It is very important to be extra aware of young drivers on the road during summer and to make sure they know the rules of the road. Driver’s education programs are key for teens who are new to driving.
Studies have shown that nighttime driving and speeding are leading factors in accidents involving teen drivers. But the leading cause for teen accidents is distracted driving.
While teens may be the worst offenders of this, everyone is guilty. Recent studies show that 55% of drivers in the U.S. check social media while behind the wheel.
But it’s not just our phones that distract us while driving. The top distraction for teens is other passengers, accounting for 15% of teen driver crashes, compared to 12 % caused by texting or talking on a cell phone.
No matter what the distraction is, summer is the time to raise awareness and advocate for focused driving. Many people feel the laid-back nature of summer can be applied to the rules of the road as well, but in reality, it is the most important time of the year to stay alert and focused.
With everyone traveling to go on their summer vacations, the sheer volume of people on the road is a recipe for disaster. And those numbers are increasing. In 2017, the New York Times reported that close to 14 million vacations were taken domestically on the road.
And summer vacations mean outdoor activities, which means recreational vehicles of all kinds. The number of motorhomes, cars towing boats, and wide loads on the road greatly increases during the summer months. Be aware of drivers who are unaware of the laws concerning trailers and larger vehicles.
The warm weather brings out the motorcyclists and bicyclists across the country. This means that sharing the road and cyclist awareness should be a number one priority for driver safety in the summer.
Reminding people of the tips for sharing the road and enforcing these laws is extremely important in the summer months to cut down on pedestrian death tolls. Reinforce the importance of checking your blind spots and giving space to cyclists for drivers.
Driving Under the Influence
Summer parties and outdoor activities lend to more alcohol and drug use. Fatal alcohol-related crashes also increase during the summer months, especially during the Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day celebrations.
Studies from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA report that:
“Labor Day has the most daily alcohol-related fatalities with an average of 117, followed closely by the Fourth of July with 116. The Memorial Day holiday follows in third with 104 alcohol-related fatalities per day.”
And remember, DUIs are not only alcohol-related. With the legalization of marjiuana in many states, it’s important to remind drivers that being “under the influence” includes more than just alcohol.
Submitted by Anna Blair
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