The students are being released from the walls of the school building! They are free to fill their day with summer jobs, vacation, or just going to get a snow cone. In addition, parents can plan vacations and weekend trips for the family. While all of this generates excitement and fun, there is a grave danger that it causes as well. The new found freedom of free time and travel results in more people driving on the roads and highways. With no school days and nights, people will be travelling at all times. Travel will increase on weekdays, afternoons, and nights. Estimates suggests that traffic can increase an extra 500-10,000 cars a day in cities and highways during the summer vacation.
Prime Time Danger
Statistics show that 86 percent of those going on vacation will choose to drive. Most of these vacations are scheduled during July and August. While these are very desirable months for vacation, they are the most dangerous months for driving. They average 116 accidents per day. The popular July 4th holiday is the most dangerous day of the year to travel. Seven of the 25 most deadly days to travel fall in the month of August.
Younger Driver Danger
Along with more cars on the road, a higher number of younger, inexperienced drivers are on the roads in the summer. Summer vacation, Memorial Day to Labor Day, has been called “The 100 Deadliest Days”. Nine out of the 10 most dangerous days for student drivers are between these two holidays. The combination of more free time and less experience elevate the driving danger. Much of the danger occurs due to alcohol consumption and drug use. Estimates show that 5.8% of drivers age 16-17 drive influenced by alcohol. For drivers age 18-20, this increases to 15.1%. In addition to being under the influence of substances, younger drivers engage in distracted driving—texting, looking in the mirror, talking to friends, etc. Added to these distractions, these drivers are driving at more dangerous times in the late evening, night, and early mornings.
In order to avoid the dangers of summertime driving, plan your trips so that you are on the road at off-peak times. First, avoid rush hour. Most accidents take place between 3pm-7pm. The least amount of accidents occurs between 3am-6am. Plan your travel so that you will not get stuck in the fray workers on their way home. Second, limit travel on weekends. Accident potential increases up to 50% on the weekends. One-third of fatal alcohol related accidents occur on the weekends.
The increased number of vehicles on the road requires drivers to be more focused and attentive while operating a car. Traffic accidents increase during the summer months. Do not focus on minor traffic accidents on the roadway while you are driving. Also, remember that summer months encourage people to use other forms of transportation. Cyclists and pedestrians will take to the roads as well. Stay sharp and on alert for them.
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