We’ve made it through the winter and the roads ahead are clear of ice and snow, but that doesn’t mean we should relax behind the wheel. The summertime presents its own challenges that we should be aware of and they require just as much skill and attentiveness as winter driving.
The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day have been dubbed “The 100 Deadliest Days” on the roads across the country. A lot of us let out a big sigh of relief once the winter months have passed and as a result, we let our guard down. We often perceive driving during the summer months to be less risky than the winter months, so we are less alert, drive faster, and allow ourselves to become distracted. Additionally, rising temperatures, increasing number of people on the road, and more construction can present challenges to truck drivers. However, as professional truck drivers, we should never let our guard down and be even more alert during the summer months. Here are 5 tips to follow to drive safe this summer:
Watch for Extra Drivers
Like a bear coming out of hibernation, the summertime brings the most drivers than any other season. Kids are out of school, families are hitting the road for their summer vacations, and people are more willing to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. These recreational drivers may be unfamiliar with the roads they are driving on, which can oftentimes lead to erratic and dangerous driving. Remember to not drive aggressive, stay alert, and always keep a safe following distance.
Be Cautious in Work Zones
Roadwork increases during the warmer months, meaning changing road patterns, loose rubble, and slower speeds. When approaching road construction, follow the standard driving 5 mph under the flow of traffic in construction zones to give yourself the space and sight you need to respond to quick stops or other hazards. Rear-end accidents are the most common type of accident in construction zones.
Also, others will be trying to get around you at the entrance and when leaving the zone – slow down early, get in the proper lane and stay there, increase your following distance, and don’t change lanes until you are clear of the zone.
Know the Weather
While it may be hot and dry in parts of the nation, other areas experience ever-changing weather during the summer months. Summer can bring storms, floods, and high winds one minute, and the next, sunshine and blue skies. Make sure that you are aware of what the weather could bring in the areas ahead of you and be prepared. Don’t let a sudden summer rainfall catch you off guard.
Check Your Brakes
Summer’s hot temperatures can lead to brake fading or the loss of friction when brake components can’t absorb any additional heat on cars. However, on a tractor, heat on brakes is not from the temp of the air or highway reflection; it’s from improper adjustment. Check your brakes each day and keep them in adjustment – especially before operating on long downhill grades. Always check your brakes to make sure they are functioning properly.
While the air conditioning in your truck may help you feel cool, you are still at risk for dehydration. Being dehydrated can leave you feeling sick and fatigued, which could be dangerous. Keep a bottle of water with you at your seat and have an extra in your truck just in case. Strive to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Summertime can be fun and relaxing, but don’t let that change what you do behind the wheel. Even without snow and ice, you should always be alert to the challenges the summer months can bring. Using these tips will help you have a fun and safe summer.