Although the official start of summer is not until June 20, typically Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season. That means eager travelers will be hitting the road to spend time with friends and family at the beach, the pool, or a backyard barbecue. Regardless of the destination, the increased number of travelers means that there are significantly more cars on the road during the summertime, which means an increased risk for car accidents. In fact, the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), June and July are the two most dangerous months of the year when it comes to car accidents. The more motorists understand the risks associated with driving during the summer, the better they will be able to take the necessary precautions to avoid an accident.
According to a 24-year study by the NHTSA, the number of fatal car accidents that occur during the summer months increases by close to 30%. Inexperienced teen drivers are at a particularly high risk compared with other drivers. In fact, approximately 260 teen drivers are fatally injured in car accidents during the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer in the United States, which is a 26% increase compared with other months throughout the year.
What are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents During the Summer?
Oftentimes, people associate the cold, winter months as being the most dangerous time to drive because of the hazardous road conditions caused by ice, snow, and freezing rain. However, there are a range of factors that cause serious car accidents to spike during the summer months, including the following:
- More drivers on the road. Anytime there is increased road traffic, there is an increased risk of car accidents. Many of the motorists on the road include teen drivers who are out of school for the summer. Unfortunately, the increased traffic combined with the number of inexperienced teen drivers on the road during the summer can lead to devastating accidents that involve catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
- Poorly maintained vehicles. Motorists have a responsibility to ensure that their vehicle is in good working order at all times. It is highly recommended that vehicles are thoroughly maintained before the start of the summer season, since the hotter temperatures can affect vehicle performance. For example, air pressure inside the tire can fluctuate, so it is important to ensure that the air in the tires is filled to the appropriate pressure in order to avoid a dangerous tire blowout. In addition, the tread should be checked for any leaks or uneven wear and tear. If the tires need to be replaced, this should be taken care of before doing any traveling. Motorists should also check the vehicle’s brakes, fluid levels, head and taillights, and the air conditioning system.
- Increased road work. Construction crews often do the majority of road work during the summer months when it is warmer outside and the days are longer. However, this can lead to increased traffic, as well as a number of other possible road hazards, including lane closures, detours, and unexpected lane changes. Other motorists can become confused, impatient, or distracted. In extreme cases, general frustration over being stuck in traffic or driving behind an inexperienced motorist can lead to road rage. In addition, when motorists are confused, distracted, or are driving too close to the car in front of them, they are more likely to cause a rear-end accident. Depending on how fast the motorist was driving at the moment of impact, this can cause serious injuries, including whiplash.
- More motorcycles and bicycles on the roads. Summer is also a time when motorcyclists and bicyclists are out and about enjoying the warm, sunny weather. Although this is a great way to get some exercise, feel the wind on their face, and enjoy the outdoors, bicyclists and motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable to serious injuries if they are hit by a car. There is nothing protecting them from the force of the impact besides their helmet, if they are wearing one. This is particularly true of motorcyclists who are riding on busy highways with other cars and trucks. If motorists are not paying attention to their surroundings and following the rules of the road at all times, motorcyclists and bicyclists can suffer serious, even fatal injuries, even if the car accident was relatively minor.
- Sun glare. Extreme sun glare can have a serious impact on visibility, particularly during the early morning hours and evening hours when motorists are commuting to and from work. Motorists should always keep a pair of sunglasses in the vehicle. In addition, if it is possible for the driver to adjust either their route, or the hours that they drive to and from work, they can avoid driving when the sun glare is the strongest.
- Distracted driving. Too many motorists continue to make phone calls, send text messages, and check social media while driving. Other common distracted driving behavior includes eating, changing the radio station, setting the GPS navigation system, and reaching for something in the back seat. According to the NHTSA, if a motorist takes his or her attention off the road for a mere five seconds, or the average amount of time it takes to send or read a text message, while traveling at a speed of 55 mph, it is comparable to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Impaired driving. During the summer, there is an increased number of drivers who are heading to graduation parties, barbecues, Fourth of July festivities, and other summertime events. Oftentimes, alcoholic beverages are served at these events. If a motorist gets behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol, he or she can cause a devastating accident that results in serious injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, many teen drivers also get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair a driver’s coordination, reflexes, and ability to react to an unexpected traffic issue. In addition, teen drivers who are under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be distracted or become drowsy while driving.
- Drowsy driving. People may be surprised to learn that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Not getting enough sleep can have a similar effect on the body as alcohol. In fact, being awake for 18 consecutive hours or more can have the same effect as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%.
- During the summer, motorists who are in a rush to get to their destination may be tempted to drive too fast. However, speeding is one of the top causes of serious car accidents. The faster a vehicle is traveling at the time of a crash, the more serious the accident, and the resulting injuries, are likely to be. Motorists must always obey the posted speed limit and follow the rules of the road when traveling during the summer.
How can I Avoid a Summertime Car Accident?
Fortunately, there are a range of things motorists can do to avoid a car accident during the summer months, including the following:
- Use extra caution when driving on weekends. Traffic is generally heavier during the summer, particularly on the weekends when people drive to the beach, lakes, parties, or to visit friends and family. Motorists should give themselves extra time so that they are less likely to become frustrated or angry if they get stuck in traffic. In addition, they should leave plenty of space between their vehicle and the car ahead of them. Overall, motorists should pay close attention to the road ahead and the other vehicles in the vicinity in order to avoid being in an accident.
- Do not drink and drive. Motorists should never get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. They should arrange for a designated driver or call a ride-sharing company.
- Avoid distractions. When operating a motor vehicle, drivers are urged to put their phones away and keep their attention focused on the road ahead at all times. Even a moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if it results in a serious car accident.
- Get plenty of sleep. If a motorist is going on a road trip, he or she should make sure to get enough sleep the night before the trip in order to avoid a drowsy driving accident.
- Maintain the vehicle. Before summer arrives, drivers should take the car to a qualified mechanic who can conduct a bumper-to-bumper inspection of the vehicle and recommend any repairs that need to be made, or parts that need to be replaced.
Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers at ACTS Law Advocate for Victims of Summertime Car Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident during the summer months, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles car accident lawyers at ACTS Law. Our dedicated and experienced legal team will investigate the details of the accident, determine who is responsible for causing the crash, and fight for the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAW or contact us online. With offices located in Los Angeles and San Diego, we serve clients throughout Southern California.