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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), July, August, and September are typically peak months for car accidents, and there are almost twice the number of traffic fatalities during the summer than the rest of the year.

Though darker days and treacherous weather throughout the fall, winter, and spring can make roadways hazardous, the clear, blue skies and warm summer days can lull drivers into a sense of calm complacency that may lead to distracted driving. Unfortunately, there are usually more people on the roads as they travel for summer vacation or head to the beach, park, or mall to enjoy the sunshine and summer freedom, so drivers need to be even more focused. An increase in motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians adds to roadway congestion, and because drivers aren’t used to seeing them, they don’t always look for them. Construction crews work more in the summer months shutting down lanes, slowing traffic, and setting up detours that add even more to the congestion and need for vigilance.

In addition, teens and young adults on break from high school and college spend 44% more time on the road during the summer months These less experienced drivers are often more distracted as well, as they tend to be attached to their cellphones. According to statistics, they have more collisions, and their accidents are often more serious. In fact, the stretch of time from Memorial Day to Labor Day when students are typically out of school is called “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers.

While more people on the roadways means more chances for something to go wrong, there are other hazards intrinsic to summertime. Tire blowouts caused by too much pressure created when the air inside tires heats and expands and car mechanical problems produced when engines overheat can lead to additional problems and increase the likelihood of accidents. The extreme heat can have an impact on motorists too. High temperatures can lead to dehydration which may result in driver impairment and even manifest as road rage.

There is also a marked increase in drivers impaired by alcohol this time of year as we attend graduation parties, barbeques, weddings, family reunions and other common summertime events. In fact, deadliest day of the year for car accidents on American roads is right around the corner. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study which found that the 4th of July is the most dangerous time to drive all year, beating out every other holiday.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from accidents this summer? We can’t control what other drivers are going to do, but we can be more mindful drivers ourselves. Responsible, alert, defensive driving is more important in the summer months than at any other time during the year. Remember:

  1. Never drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs, medication, sleep deprivation, or emotional distress. Stay hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion, and when in doubt, get out from behind the wheel!
  2. Keep your phone tucked away, out of reach and focus, and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Make sure your teenage drivers do so as well.
  3. Have awareness of the road around you at all times. Look down the road often to see what’s ahead, and glance in your rearview mirror occasionally so you know what’s going on behind you.
  4. Be extra cautious on weekends, evenings, and holidays.
  5. Make sure everyone wears seat belts which decrease the risk of fatal injuries in a crash.
  6. Check your tire pressure and tread regularly, and have your car inspected before a big trip.

Here at Accident and Injury Chiropractic, we want to wish you a happy summer break! And remember, if you are in an accident, come to the Accident and Injury Chiropractic office near you where our focus is on caring for motor vehicle accident injuries.