Most people are aware of the dangers that winter driving can bring, and recognize the need to be extra cautious on foggy days. You might be surprised to learn that summer driving can be just as dangerous as driving in the winter.
In summertime, it's easy to let your guard down and forget about the everyday risks and summer-specific dangers that you may face while driving. You might think you're an expert on the rules of the road, but if you took your driving lessons more than a few years ago, you probably don't remember as much as you think.
By brushing up on your driving knowledge, you can keep important tips fresh in your mind. This will help you stay safe while driving in the summer, and year-round.
Prepare for Family Road Trips
Summer is, without question, the best time for road trips. Between travel-friendly weather and the longer duration of days compared to winters, road trips give your family a great way to enjoy fun in the sun.
But before you drive off into the summer sunset, be sure to take some precautions first, to ensure that your vehicle is maintained and that you're prepared for emergencies:
- Safety first: Never leave home for extended car travel without first doing proper vehicle maintenance. Have tires inspected (including the spare), as well as brakes, hoses, belts, fluids, and air conditioning. Also, be sure that you have insurance paperwork and car manuals in the glove compartment.
- Emergency prep: No one wants to think about what might go wrong on the road, but being prepared can make this possibility less worrisome. Be sure to bring your cell phone and charger, a first-aid kit, and some basic tools along with you - these just might save the day in an emergency.
Stay Smart While Celebrating
The lazy days of summer also mean more pool side parties and barbeques. Unless you're just going next door, this means more time on the road getting to and from your destination.
It's popular to enjoy beer, wine, or cocktails at summer celebrations, but if you're driving home after the event, you must monitor your alcohol consumption. If you'd prefer not to abstain, then make plans for a designated driver before you start drinking - or keep the phone number of a taxi or car service handy.
If all else fails, plan to spend the night at your host's house. It's far better to end up in cramped quarters than the emergency room.
Keep Your Skills Sharp
Summer is no different from other times of the year when it comes to basic driving precautions. Certain issues can affect your driving year-round, so it pays to keep your skills sharp.
Some of the most common driving problems arise as a result of our emotional or mental state. Highway hypnosis, for example, occurs on long-distance drives along straight highways, and leads drivers to become drowsy and unfocused. Road-rage is related to an angry mental state; the term refers to any display of aggression that leads to unsafe driving. Fatigue is perhaps the most common problem that drivers experience, and leads to many crashes each year.
If you feel drowsy, tired, or can't concentrate - or if you feel that an angry emotional state is causing you to lose your judgment - try one of the following solutions immediately:
- Take a break from driving. Pull over for food and drinks, coffee, or just to stretch your legs.
- If you're sleepy, let someone else take a turn behind the wheel. Or, if you're driving alone, pull off at a rest stop and take a short nap.
- If you're feeling agitated from traffic or other drivers, stop at a petrol pump and cool down. Listen to some soothing music, or take a short walk. Don't resume driving until your emotions have returned to a steadier state.
And it should go without saying, but never text and drive! According to the WHO, cell phone driving is the seventh most important cause of a road accident in India.
You're Never Too Old for a Refresher
According to the National Crime Records Bureau or NCRB, every year more than 135,000 people die in road crashes. The statistics are frightening, but you can avoid unsafe driving through remembering to exercise caution and keeping your skills sharp. By refreshing your knowledge of the issues and dangers you may encounter while driving, you can help keep yourself and your family safe in every season.