As winter fades and the snow disappears, it’s easy to believe that the roads are safer now, but summer has its own dangers for motorists to contend with. The common hazards during summer road trips are different from winter conditions, but they’re no less dangerous.
To get a clearer picture of the issues you might face, consider your vehicle and where you’re going.
Summer and heat go hand in hand, but the same isn’t true for heat and cars. The engine already generates heat, and the coolant keeps everything from getting too hot. It’s a delicate balance, but the various engine components seem to find a sort of equilibrium.
However, once you introduce your vehicle to an environment that is hotter than normal, it can disrupt that balance, resulting in a higher chance of the engine overheating.
Always check your coolant levels to see if there’s still enough to handle the engine’s heat, and do your best to park in shaded areas. If your engine does start overheating to critical levels, pull over and wait for the engine to cool down completely before attempting to restart it. This may take about 30 minutes. If the problem continues, you’ll need to take it to a mechanic.
The coldest months of winter, especially in northern states, plays havoc with the roads. Between the salt, the snowplows, and the constant expansion and compression of ice, the roads can be in pretty bad condition by the time summer rolls around. This can result in roads covered in deep potholes, uneven pavement, or faded traffic markings that make driving less safe.
Summer is also the time when road construction tends to start back up again after winter dormancy. Be careful of roads under construction, and be aware of any workers who may be working close by. Maintaining a higher level of awareness will keep you, your car, and the hardworking construction workers safe throughout the summer.
Depending on the general patterns of the area, the weather can change rapidly between raining, hailing, and clear skies. Arguably, the most dangerous of these situations is excessive rainfall. Too much rainwater on the road can cause your vehicle to lose traction and spin out of control, also called hydroplaning. There are ways to handle your car while it’s hydroplaning, but the chances of you sustaining an injury are still high.
You’ll need to be able to adapt to changing conditions on the road. Slow down when the rain starts, and be exceptionally more cautious when you encounter anything other than clear blue skies.
Prepare for the Worst
While the chances of a serious accident are relatively low, it’s still not zero. Make sure you have the tools necessary to get you out of a rough situation, whether it’s an emergency phone to call for help, extra water to keep you hydrated if you’re stranded, or a spare tire and a jack if you suffer a blowout. Don’t be unprepared when you’re dealing with summer road trip hazards.