Long daylight hours and better driving conditions may lull drivers into a false sense of safety during summer months, according to a new survey conducted by Michelin for National Tire Safety Week (May 28\u2012June 3).
Two in three (67 percent) drivers report feeling safer driving during the summertime, citing better road conditions (83 percent) and nicer weather (81 percent) as reasons.
34.6M drivers will hit the road Memorial Day weekend
Despite drivers' self-confidence, Memorial Day commences the most dangerous season of the year on the road, with more auto accidents occurring during summer months than any other time of year, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than 34.6 million Americans will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional launch of the U.S. summer vacation season, according to AAA.
Three-quarters of drivers (74 percent) falsely believe that summer has fewer accidents than other times of the year. Similarly, drivers are three times less likely to be vigilant, (e.g., alert and focused on immediate surroundings) while driving during summer months than during winter.
Summer driving mistakes
Drivers report other differences in seasonal driving behaviors that suggest reduced vigilance during summer months:
- Eight in 10 drivers (81 percent) said they were less likely to drive cautiously (e.g., taking extra care with stopping, turning and attention to speed) in the summertime.
- Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they were less likely to pay close attention to other drivers on the road in the summer compared to winter months.
- Drivers are nearly three times less likely to check the condition of their tires in the summer.
Heat is enemy of tires
"Drivers tend to think about their tires in the winter, when slippery, icy roads require maximum traction. But heat is the enemy of tires," said Sarah Robinson, driving safety expert at Michelin. "Some of the most severe tire-related episodes are due to under-inflated tires in summer months."
All drivers are encouraged to remain vigilant and safe on summer road trips with these summer driving tips:
- Give your car a checkup: Ahead of summer travel season, conduct a safety check of your vehicle to make sure it is in prime condition. Check oil and fluid levels, windshield wipers, headlights and battery ahead of your trip.
- Check your tires: Check to ensure your tires have sufficient tread with a simple penny test, and check your tire pressure using the manufacturer's setting found on the driver's door jamb. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticed and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. Don't forget to check the air in your spare, too.
- Practice safe following distance: Always be aware of the cars immediately surrounding you, especially those in front. Give yourself enough room to brake or maneuver in an unexpected situation.
- Focus fully on the road ahead: While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet.
- Carry an emergency kit: Carry an appropriate emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. Program your cell phone in advance with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider.
- Take breaks during long trips: Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don't feel sleepy. Stretching your legs and taking a quick moment to "reset" can help avoid zoning out behind the wheel and keep passengers from getting cabin fever.
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