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5 Hidden Dangers of Summertime Driving

Many drivers sigh with relief as Wisconsin’s harsh winters give way to summer’s warmth and sunshine. As warm weather moves in, icy roads and blizzard conditions are seemingly replaced by clear skies and smooth driving.

However, this perceived safety is misleading; summer brings its own driving hazards, like increased traffic and alcohol-involved crashes, that are often underestimated. Car accidents spike in May through September, with an average of 50 deaths in May, 59 in June, and 60 in July in Wisconsin before tapering off in November.  

Explore why summer driving can be deceptively dangerous and learn some of the most common risks you may encounter so you can take preventative measures to stay safe.

1. Increased Traffic Volumes

Summer is synonymous with vacations, road trips, and active transportation. As a result, roads become busier, with more cars and bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. This can result in congested roads and the need to be aware of and avoid multiple driving hazards, increasing the risk of accidents. 

Summer break also means more young and inexperienced drivers are on the roads, which can lead to riskier driving behaviors. The inexperience of these young drivers, combined with their enthusiasm and distractibility, can make collisions more likely.

2. Rise in Drunk Driving Incidents

Summer’s warm weather and festive atmosphere can mean more parties and gatherings where alcohol is consumed. Summer holidays like Memorial Day, at the end of May, and Independence Day on the 4th of July are notorious for alcohol-involved fatalities.

Nationally, there were 453 deaths on Memorial Day in 2021, with 40% of these involving alcohol. On Independence Day, there were 517 deaths in 2021, with 31% attributed to driving under the influence.

Drunk driving endangers the lives of all road users. When driving in the summer, take precautions if you encounter a drunk driver, like reporting their behavior to the police and staying at a safe distance.

3. Overheating of Vehicle Components

High temperatures can be harsh on vehicles. Summer heat can strain your vehicle’s engine and other components, leading to overheating. This often results in breakdowns or malfunctions that block traffic or cause collisions on busy roads in downtown Green Bay or nearby highways like I-41 or I-43.

Overheating can also affect systems like air conditioning, making the interior uncomfortable and potentially distracting drivers. It could also lead to heat exhaustion, causing a medical emergency and loss of control of the vehicle.

To keep your vehicle safe and functioning during the hot months, regularly check and maintain coolant levels, engine oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. Inspect your vehicle’s hoses and belts for signs of wear and tear, which can worsen overheating issues.

Ensuring these components are in good condition helps prevent breakdowns and keeps your vehicle running smoothly.

4. Increased Risk of Tire Blowouts

Hot roads and long drives can be fatal for your vehicle’s tires. At just 88℉, blacktop can reach 130℉, and summer highs of 95℉ can see pavement reaching upwards of 140℉ or more. This heat can cause the air inside tires to expand, leading to increased pressure that can result in a blowout.

A high-speed tire blowout can lead to severe accidents, including multi-car pile-ups on congested roadways. Check your vehicle’s tire pressure and condition throughout the summer to ensure they are not worn down and are inflated to the correct pressure.

5. Spike in Road Construction

Summer isn’t just peak travel season; it’s also a prime time for road construction. With better weather conditions, crews are out repairing damage from winter and improving infrastructure. This leads to unexpected detours, sudden lane closures, and altered traffic patterns, which can be disorienting and dangerous for drivers.

Several construction projects, including I-41 expansion and various state route resurfacing initiatives, are scheduled for 2024 in Green Bay and the surrounding areas. To prevent possible accidents, stay updated on projects in your area, plan alternate routes, always adhere to speed limits, and practice safe driving in work zones.

Injured in a Summertime Driving Accident? Talk to a Lawyer Who Can Help

While summertime offers a break from the snow and ice, it introduces a new set of challenges for drivers in Wisconsin. If you’re hurt in a vehicle accident this summer, talk with our Green Bay accident attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers.

We can help you understand your legal options and seek compensation for your collision-related injuries and damages. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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