A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that covered 24 years of car accident statistics revealed that 29 percent more people die in car crashes in the summer months than during the winter. Peak months for car accidents are June, July, and August, and fatal accidents involving teen drivers are much higher during these months, which is also known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer.
When drivers understand the reasons behind the increase in accidents, they can better protect themselves and their loved ones. The following information can shed some light on why car accidents increase in the summer months.
More People Drive During the Summer Months
Longer days and better weather draws people out for sports, recreation, and vacations. Tourists crowd the roads surrounding popular destinations. More people out on the roads means an increased risk of an accident.
Three major American holidays happen during the summer months: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Many people will drive and take road trips during these popular holidays. An increase in traffic can lead to congestion and delays that encourage bad driving behaviors, such as speeding, to make up for lost time. Aggressive driving, road rage, and tailgating are common causes of summer car accidents as well.
Teenage Drivers are Out of School
Teenage drivers are at the highest risk of being involved in a car accident largely because they are new to driving. However, once school lets out, they have a lot more time available, which means more driving. They may be going to and from a summer job or meeting friends to hang out. Common causes of teen-related car accidents include:
- Distracted driving, such as texting or checking social media, interacting with passengers, listening to music, putting on makeup, and eating and drinking.
- Speeding or racing against a friend’s car.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Impaired motorists tend to overestimate their own driving abilities, which is especially dangerous for new teenage drivers.
Motorcycles, Bicycles, and Pedestrians
Dry summer weather attracts more motorcyclists and bicyclists to the roadways, and they can be difficult to see. Accidents can happen when a motorcycle or bike goes unnoticed in a driver’s blind spot or as a car goes to turn. A seemingly minor collision between two vehicles can be quite serious or even deadly if it involves a motorcycle or bicycle and a passenger vehicle.
Pedestrians are also out in greater numbers during the summer months. Drivers must be extra vigilant as they approach intersections and check for pedestrians entering crosswalks.
Summer is Ideal for Road Construction Projects
Many states and municipalities plan construction projects for the summer months because of drier weather and longer hours of daylight. However, for drivers, this means unfamiliar detours, lane shifts, and massive traffic jams.
Often, the speed limit has deliberately been lowered to protect both workers on the construction site and drivers passing through. Car accidents from tailgating, distracted driving, and speeding are common in construction zones.
Hot Summer Temperatures can Cause Accidents
In many areas of the United States, summer temperatures can be high and humid. Heat and humidity can cause wear and tear on automotive parts and equipment, especially when the vehicle has not been maintained and prepared for the summer season. Cooling systems should be flushed and recharged, and tires and hoses checked for wear and degraded materials. The car battery should also be checked. If not properly maintained, a tire blow or another failed component can cause a serious car accident.
The intense summer heat can also affect drivers in the form of dehydration and fatigue, which can impact reaction time and decision-making capabilities. When traveling, drivers should stop for rest breaks to rehydrate.
Drinking and Driving
Many summer events, both formal and informal, involve alcohol. At graduations, parties, picnics, and barbeques and other outdoor occasions, it is common for alcoholic beverages to be served, and anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking at a party is endangering themselves and others on the roadway. The NHTSA reports that fatal car crashes involving alcohol increase significantly over the summer months.
How can I Avoid a Summer Car Accident?
Drivers can take a number of precautions that will help reduce their risk of an accident during the summer months. Families with teenage drivers should talk regularly about safe driving habits and not assume that teenagers are automatically practicing good driving behaviors. Remind them to always buckle up, put cellphones away, and never drink and drive or ride with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs. Teenagers should familiarize themselves with their routes ahead of time. Parents should always model best driving practices in front of teenage drivers.
Additionally, drivers should take extra care looking for motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians in the summer months. It is also important to leave extra time to get to the destination to accommodate traffic jams and construction zones. If a motorist plans to drink, they should designate a driver.
Every vehicle should have an emergency kit that contains first aid supplies, phone charging cables or extra battery packs, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blankets, and extra food and water. An updated emergency car kit should be put together at the beginning of spring or summer.
What if I am Injured in a Car Accident?
Summer car accidents range from minor collisions to serious crashes that can cause lifelong injuries. Speeding, alcohol and drug use, drowsy driving, and distracted driving can all affect the impact and severity of an accident. The rate of fatalities in summer car accidents is higher than during other months of the year. Those who survive an accident may be left with devastating and life-altering injuries. Head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, rollovers, and sideswipe crashes are all examples of serious car accidents.
Virginia state law dictates that a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries that were caused by a collision must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. Virginia is also one of a few states that uses the concept of contributory negligence, which means that if a driver contributed in any way at all to the cause of an accident, they are barred from filing a lawsuit for damages. If a driver bears even one percent responsibility, they may lose their right to sue.
Compensation for injuries from a car accident that was caused by negligence can include awards for medical bills, vehicle damage, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages may be appropriate. If the accident was caused by defective automobile parts or defective traffic lights, then a third-party claim for compensation may be filed. Every situation is unique, and a lawyer who is experienced in summer car accident cases will know the next best steps to take after the collision.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Fight on Behalf of Victims Injured in Summer Collisions
During summer, there are many dangers that drivers should be aware of. If another party caused your summer collision, a knowledgeable Virginia Beach car accident lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 today or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia we represent accident victims throughout Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.