When George Gershwin wrote the lyric, "Summertime, an' the livin' is easy," it's almost a certainty he'd never dealt with an influx of serious summer traffic. That's not to say that all is misery on the road during the summer. Certainly part of the reason there's so much traffic is that there's plenty of fun things to do. There's nothing like driving to the lake, to the seaside, or to a favorite park or trail with friends and loved ones, while enjoying a little fresh air. And certainly, you should feel free to relax during the summer, just as long as you stay mindful of the added dangers that come with this most pleasant season. Our tips will help keep you safe from vacationers, white-knuckled teens, and unexpected construction sites alike.
Basics of the Summer Road
Let's start with a simple physics lesson. Heat causes air to expand. Tires are full of air, therefore, as the environment warms up, your tires expand. How much? It's not an exact science, but generally, you can expect your tire pressure to increase by one Pound per Square Inch (PSI) per degree Fahrenheit.
This may not seem like much, but try to think back on the last time you filled your tires. If you filled them when it was 40 degrees outside, and the temperature has risen to 90 degrees, then it's quite possible your tires' pressure has increased by 5 PSI. It's not an insignificant number, and while we're normally concerned with making sure our tire pressure is high enough, you also don't want it to be too high.
Another basic factor to consider is one having to do with human nature itself. People generally like doing things outside when it's nice and warm. Construction is one of those activities, and you are certain to see more construction sites popping up during the summer. If April showers bring May flowers then spring equipment production brings summer traffic construction.
It's nothing to be too alarmed about, just be extra cautious on the road and keep an eye out for flagging operations; the life you save may be your own, and someone else's too.
Hot Tips to Help You Keep Your Cool
In an apparent contradiction, the season of relaxing poolside and sipping coke from glass bottles is also a time of increased road rage for many. And not unjustifiably; summer changes driver demographics in several ways.
First, you are certain to see more tourists and vacationers on the road. Often, these drivers don't know where they're going and they may display irritating behaviors while driving, such as slowing down to look for the right turn, or swerving back and forth as spouses argue about which waterfall to visit. It's nothing you can control, but what you can do is give other vehicles a safe distance and be on the lookout for road signs of unsafe driving. If you see someone busting unusual maneuvers on the highway, like rapidly pulling back into traffic after picking the wrong exit lane, don't assume they just made a single mistake. Give them plenty of room and prioritize the safety of yourself and your loved ones.
In a similar vein, you are sure to see more teen drivers out and about. While some teenage drivers engage in selfish, irresponsible behavior while driving, others are genuinely unsure of what to do on the road, and may drive timidly or too slowly as a result. Be patient with younger, inexperienced drivers and don't make them even more nervous and mistake-prone by engaging in reckless and aggressive behavior yourself.
Finally, watch out for more debris on the road than usual. Kayaks, surf and paddleboards, bicycles, and all the detritus of summer landscaping are just a few of the miscellaneous items you might see flying off vehicles in front of you or cluttering the road. Be on your guard, take evasive maneuvers as necessary, and remember to always pull over in a safe area such as a rest stop to check your vehicle for cosmetic damage.
Keeping Your Cool
With so much going on while driving in the summer, it's not difficult to get a little hotheaded, but by taking it easy, driving defensively, watching the road ahead with care, and avoiding the common causes of distracted driving, you'll ensure that your traffic experience moves as gently as a cool summer breeze.