With the blizzards, whiteouts and ice-covered roads of winter in the rear-view mirror and the warm, sunny days of summer just around the corner, you might be looking forward to your drivers traveling on roads that are safer and much easier to navigate.
Sorry to disappoint.
Summertime driving can present numerous challenges that make travel less safe than you may think. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that July and August are the two deadliest months of the year, with more accidents and vehicular-related deaths and injuries than any other months.
Why there are more accidents in July and August is hard to pinpoint, but one thing’s for certain — U.S. roads are much more congested in summer than they are in winter. And, the simple fact is, with more vehicles on the road, there is a greater chance of something going wrong and an accident occurring.
In summer, you have more vacationers and inexperienced teen drivers to deal with, more vehicles pulling boats and campers, more motorcyclists and bicyclists enjoying the open road, and more work zones and road construction.
The summer has several popular holiday weekends: Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. In fact, the Fourth of July, according to NHTSA statistics, averaged 307 fatalities per year from 2011 to 2015.
Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and Labor Day the unofficial end of summer. This means, beginning May 24 and continuing through September 3, millions of Americans will be jumping in their cars and hitting the road for various destinations —despite the highest gas prices since 2014.
For the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimates 36.6 million motorists on U.S. roads (a 4.7% increase from the same period last year) and estimated road delays on Thursday and Friday (May 24 and 25) up to three times longer than usual.
Take the Sting Out of Traffic Congestion
For fleets, heavy congestion makes business anything but usual. Thankfully, there’s telematics technology that can help you plan ahead with route optimization, scheduling and routine maintenance so you can minimize delays, keep customers happy and keep vehicles on the road.
In order to keep drivers cool under the collar and keep performance at safe, optimal levels, here are six tips that will make all the difference.1. Keep It Slow
More vehicles on the roads are naturally going to cause drivers to slow down. Make sure you aren’t tempted to go above the speed limit or speed up quickly to make up for lost time.
Traffic snarls can appear out of nowhere for many reasons, including the presence of work zones, accidents, blowouts and pop-up thunderstorms that can make the roads very slick, very quickly. So proceed with caution, keep your eyes peeled at all times, check your mirrors every few seconds and be proactive by always expecting the unexpected.
2. Avoid Weaving
Weaving in and out of lanes to get ahead of traffic can be very dangerous. Don’t do it. Other drivers can’t read your mind and figure out what you are planning to do, so they may change lanes just as you are approaching. Stay safe by staying in one lane until it becomes necessary for you to move.
3. Use Indicators
Use signals at all times, so drivers around you know your intentions, and they can adjust accordingly. Keep in mind that most states have a 100-ft. (5 sec.) limit for turning on your blinker.
Staying focused is even more important in heavy traffic. Moving slower on the road does not necessarily mean it’s safer. With heavy congestion, there’s a lot of stop-and-go traffic and situations where you have to come to an immediate halt. So look ahead for brake lights, and do not text, make phone calls or send emails while driving. If one of those tasks can’t wait, get off the road to take care of them.
5. Keep Your Distance
A good rule of thumb is to keep three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Measure this by keeping an eye on that vehicle and then finding a fixed object (such as a road sign) that is even with it. Then count how long it takes your vehicle to reach the same object. If it is less than three seconds, allow more following distance.
6. Keep Your Cool
It is easy to lose patience in heavy traffic, but the worst thing you can do is become angry or aggressive and drive irresponsibly. Not only does this put lives in danger, it can damage the reputation of your company. Try to relax by taking a couple of deep breaths and if necessary, pull off the road and take a short break. It will be well worth it.
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