Whatever the season and whatever the weather, there are always hazards presented when driving. In the winter months, dangers on the road may be more apparent, for example, icy and snow covered roads. However there are also numerous hazards of driving in the summer months.
Here is a list of our top ten hazards, and advice on each one.
1. RAIN AFTER DRY SPELLS
The summer season suggests beaming sunshine, warm breezes and no sign of rain. However, living in the UK, we know this is not usually the case, and a little rain is expected!
After a period of dry weather, rain on the road becomes a serious driving hazard, as roads become extremely slippery. The reason being, during the dry weather, dust, oils and other fluids from vehicles build up on the surface of the road. When the rainwater falls on the roads, instead of washing everything away, the water loosens the oils, creating a greasy and therefore slippery surface, which can catch drivers off guard and result in accidents.
If you are on the road after this sort of weather, to avoid accidents and injuries, be sure to take extra care whilst driving. This includes allowing extra time for braking, and leaving extra room between you and the car in front.
Despite the clear blue skies we are (sometimes!) graced with in the summer, visibility is not always great. If the sun in beaming straight at your car, you will often find you are faced with a huge glare, which is dangerous as you may not be able to see exactly what is in front of you.
To improve visibility, you can wear a pair of clean, unscratched sunglasses and keep both of your windscreens clean from dead bugs, pollen and any other smog.
3. MORE NEW/YOUNG DRIVERS
During the summer months schools, colleges and universities have their annual summer holiday. Because of this young drivers are more likely to be out and about on the roads.
Road safety charity Brake found that car accidents are the biggest killer of UK teenagers. This is supported by data that has been collected over the years that shows young drivers are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident than other age group.
4. MORE CHILDREN ABOUT
As well as more young drivers on the road, long school holidays also means more children playing outside.
A recent study showed that 5% of pedestrian deaths took place on 20mph roads. And that a staggering 85% of pedestrian deaths were a result of vehicles travelling between 30-40mph.
You should always look out for children playing outside, as it only take a split second for them to run out on to the road.
5. CYCLISTS ON THE ROAD
Another hazard for summer driving is bicycles and motorcycles, which are more common on the roads in the summer months. Let’s face it, who wants to go on a bike in the pouring rain and freezing temperatures?
Both bikes and motorbikes have the same rights to the road as cars, but cyclists are 38 more times likely to have a fatal accident than drivers. This does not however mean that drivers are not at risk of suffering serious injuries or even fatalities as a result of a collision.
To reduce the chances of being involved in a collision with a cyclist, you should always double check at a junction for any oncoming bikes. Not only that, when passing a bicycle, you should leave at least one metre, ensuring the rider has enough space.
6. TRACTORS ON THE ROAD
If you and your family decide to take a drive out to the countryside for a summer day out, there is a chance you may find yourself behind a tractor. Frustrating as this may be, it is important to be careful and aware of the potential hazards.
Tractors are not required to have brake lights or indicators so you will probably not be aware that they will be turning into an upcoming field. Keep a safe distance behind the tractor to allow the driver plenty of room to turn without affecting you in any way.
Tractors are very large vehicles but travel at a very slow pace. Because of this, drivers want to overtake the vehicle as soon as possible. It is important to remember that tractors are noisy vehicles and therefore the driver cannot hear anything around him. Also, because of the size, the driver will not see your vehicle beginning to overtake in his rear view mirror like we do. For these reasons, you should take great care when overtaking and only do so when you are 100% sure it is safe.
Remember, making sure it is safe and that there are no oncoming cars applies when over-taking any vehicle, not just a tractor.
7. ANIMALS ON THE ROAD
Like bikes and motorbikes, horses are also more likely to be on the roads during the summer. And again, they have the same rights as cars to be on the roads.
When passing or over-taking a horse on the road, you should always drive slowly so as not to frighten the animal. It is also imperative that you make no loud noises when passing a horse, for example, beeping the horn or playing loud music as this could again frighten the animal. If this were to happen, a horse could throw its rider off its back, not only injuring the rider, but causing chaos on the road which may lead to a collision.
Another common animal to be found on the roads in the summer months are deer. These animals are more active in the summer, especially around sunrise and late at night in the darkness.
There are certain places which are known for deer to be crossing roads, and will usually be highlighted by warning signs. You should be aware of deer in these areas to prevent you from slamming on brakes or swerving your car to avoid hitting them.
More people take their cars on long trips in the summer time, which naturally leads to more car breakdowns happening on the roads.
The hot weather in the summer can increase the chances of your car overheating. If this does happen whilst you are on the road, you should pull over and let your car cool down.
Not only that, the hot weather can cause the air in car tyres to expand, resulting in a blow-out, especially on well-worn wheels. You should always check your tyres on a regular basis, especially before driving long distances.
Getting distracted while driving is a hazard at any time of the year, not just in the summer months. With more time spent on the road in summer, particularly with a car full, distractions can be more frequent and more serious.
An American study found that on average drivers took their eyes off the road once every six minutes. Distractions included using mobile phones, eating, drinking, smoking and children.
It may be an idea, if travelling with children, to explain the importance of concentrating whilst driving to them, so they know not to attempt to get your attention while you do so.
If you feel you are becoming distracted, it would be better for you to stop off and take a break from driving, rather than continue and cause an accident.
10. HAY FEVER
There are many people who suffer with hay fever in the summer and if you do, you should minimise the effects/symptoms when driving for safety reasons. If you were to sneeze whilst driving on a motorway, you can lose your vision for up to 100 metres. For hay fever sufferers, it is common to have sneezing ‘fits’, meaning numerous sneezes straight after each other. This can be extremely dangerous as you would be driving ‘blind’ for a significant distance.
To minimise effects/symptoms, you can take medication, but you must ensure it does not cause drowsiness. If you were to have a particular bad hay fever day, say if the pollen count was higher than normal, it may be best to get someone else to drive. Other things you can do to help are to keep windows closed whilst driving, wear sunglasses to block out sunlight and the most important, slow down or drop back if you feel a sneeze coming on.
It may seem insignificant to take such action for driving, but something as small as a sneeze could cause a serious accident if you lost control of your car.
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