Dangers of the Summer Road Trip

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 2, 2019

Summer is the most dangerous time to be on the roads of Virginia or another state. Millions of families make a summer road trip in the United States for vacations or to see their families. They seldom realize this is the most hazardous time to drive.

The summer months see a huge influx of visitors to places like Virginia Beach, Hampton, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. People attend parties and drunk alcohol. The sheer volume of traffic and the increase in the number of people on motorcycles, bikes, and scooters adds to the risks.

Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reveal the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Days are the most hazardous days of the year for young drivers. This period is sometimes referred to as the 100 most dangerous days.

When you are planning a summer road trip, you should make sure to plan ahead and be aware of potential hazards.

Why Are Summer Road Trips So Dangerous?

Summer road trips are more hazardous than those at other times of the year for a number of reasons, namely:

1. More Young Drivers on the Roads

When school’s out for summer, more teens get behind the wheel. This can be problematic because teen drivers are less experienced and are more likely to make basic driving mistakes. Teen drivers are also more likely to be on their cellphones. Studies show distracted driving causes as many as 1 in 10 of teen driving deaths.

Parents can take measures to keep their kids safe. Make sure a designated driver is appointed for parties or order a ridehailing service. Don’t give the car keys to your teen if they won’t agree to avoid alcohol at a party and set a time to return home.

2. Construction Projects

Considerable construction takes place on the roads over the summer period, particularly in states in the north where it’s too cold to carry out roadwork over the winter period.

Work zones are dangerous places with elevated accident rates. Off-ramp closures, diverted lanes, work trucks, and reduced speed limits can be distracting to drivers. Always pay close attention in work zones and slow down to posted speed limits. Fines are higher in work zones.

3. Increased alcohol and drug use

People are more likely to use alcohol and drugs when they are on vacation. The Addiction Center points out pool days, BBQs, beach parties and nightclubbing at holiday resorts is associated with a spike in alcohol and drug use.

Unfortunately, some people take the risk and get behind the wheel when they are drunk and drugged. Every summer, we see a spike in deaths and road accidents associated with intoxicated driving in Hampton Roads.

4. Congestion

Traffic congestion spikes over the summer months. Workers often take vacations in July and August and kids are off school. The New York Times reports Americans take about 14 million domestic vacations over the summer months. Statistically, more cars on the roads increase the chances of accidents occurring.

5. Vehicle Maintenance Issues

Extreme summer heat puts your car or truck to the test. Your car is more likely to overheat in the summer and tires may blowout, causing a serious accident. Make sure to inflate your tires regularly and check the tread levels.  Before setting out on a long road trip, ensure you are up to date on oil changes, your wipers work, and you have enough coolant and screen wash. Make sure you have breakdown coverage and a first aid kit and warning triangle in your car. Many accidents occur when people in broken down cars are struck by other traffic on busy roads.

6. There are More Cyclists and Motorcyclists on the Roads

More cyclists and motorcyclists are out on the road in the summer. Drivers should be prepared to share the road and give those on two wheels more space. Many American cities are now seeing an influx of deckles electric scooters. Increasingly, electric scooter riders are getting injured in Virginia.

Often drivers are not familiar with electric scooters. They are shocked to see a rider appear in front of them.

Motorcyclists are a more familiar hazard but drivers still fail to see them. Recently, seven riders were killed when a pickup truck hit a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire.

Tips to Deal with the Dangers of the Summer Road Trip

Some basic precautions will help you when setting out on a summer road trip.

  1. Get your car serviced before you leave to minimize the dangers of a mechanical breakdown.
  2. Leave early for your destination so as you do not have to rush
  3. Plan your route carefully and avoid bottlenecks if possible;
  4. Take regular breaks and drunk coffee to stay alert;
  5. Switch drivers at regular intervals if possible;
  6. Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs while driving;
  7. Avoid distractions. Program your GPs before you leave and use a hands-free device.

Talk to a Virginia Car Accident Injury Attorney

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer road trip, no matter how far you plan to travel. If you are unfortunate enough to be hurt in an accident, please contact the Smith Law Center as soon as possible at (757) 244-7000.

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