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dangers of summer driving

The dangers of summer driving are more deceptive than icy roads and spring floods. We'll break down the most common dangers to help you stay sharp under the summer sun.

So what makes summer driving so dangerous?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) driving fatality statistics from 2006 to 2009, July and August consistently saw some of the highest rates of fatal accidents throughout the year.

On the surface, driving through a summer heat wave seems quite serene compared to a winter whiteout. But summer can trump winter in the danger department, and here are a handful of reasons why.

More teens on the road

More teens on the road

When school's out, more teen drivers hit the roads. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) reports that teens spend 44 percent more time behind the wheel in the summer than during the school year.

More teen drivers on the road can mean more danger for the rest of us. The unavoidable lack of experience (we've all been there) can lead to questionable judgment that can increase the risk of an accident. And data shows that teens are more likely to be involved in accidents than other age groups.

Drivers on vacation add to road congestion

Drivers on vacation add to road congestion

We all have our favorite summer destinations, and suffering through traffic jams is the price we gladly pay for getting there. Congested roads make for harder driving conditions and the potential for road rage, so plan ahead. (And watch out for those impatient drivers who might cut you off.)

Vacation drivers are unfamiliar with the roads, which can lead to erratic or unpredictable driving (especially when there's something cool to look at). And because they're unfamiliar, they may drive too slowly.

Tire blowouts

Tire blowouts

Summer can do a number on your tires. As AAA explains, hot weather causes the air inside your tires to expand, which can lead to a blowout in well-worn wheels. Check your tires on a regular basis during the summer months, especially during heat waves.

Construction

Construction

Summertime is a popular time for road construction. The Federal Highway Administration reports that 667 fatalities resulted from car crashes in work zones in 2009. Always be a little extra cautious when you drive around construction zones.

More bicycles and motorcycles on the road

More bicycles and motorcycles on the road

Many cyclists and bikers take advantage of the warm weather to enjoy the open road, which makes sharing the road a priority.

Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous. The NHTSA reports that about 51,000 cyclists were injured due to motor vehicle crashes in 2009 alone.

Sun and excess heat

Sun and excess heat

The scorching summer sun can dehydrate you on long drives, so keep a bottle of water handy.

And of course, the chance of your engine overheating increases, especially if you have to rely on your air conditioner to keep yourself from overheating. If your engine overheats, pull over to let it cool down.

Avoiding the summertime driving blues

In spite of all its glorious perks, summer can be a dangerous time to drive. Season-specific variables like more teens on the road and more work zones conspire to jeopardize that easy, breezy summer feeling.

By knowing what you might encounter, you can keep yourself safe and enjoy the better weather.

Related links

Fall driving dangers
Think summer is a dangerous time for drivers? Check out the driving dangers associated with fall.

How to change a flat tire
Since summer heat can lead to tire blowouts, it pays to be prepared. Take a look at our step-by-step guide to changing a flat tire.