Memorial Day Marks Start of Dangerous Driving Season
CHICAGO- Memorial Day will soon kick off the start of a long-awaited summer, but it also marks the first day of an especially dangerous season for driving. Warmer weather, construction, vacations, and graduations bring more congestion to the roads, which can compound the dangers associated with the distracted driving epidemic, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
Advanced technologies have made cars safer than ever in recent years, but vehicle crashes and fatalities are rising sharply across the country. The National Safety Council preliminary 2017 data shows that motor vehicle deaths surpassed 40,000 for the second consecutive year in 2017 and 4.57 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes.
“Distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle crashes nationwide, and summer activities bring even more distracted drivers to the roads,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president of personal lines policy at PCI.
Teen drivers are especially prone to distracted driving, and the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest days on the road for teenagers. According to We Save Lives, a highway safety advocacy organization, an average of 260 teens are killed in auto crashes each month during the summer, which is 26 percent higher than other months of the year. And 60 percent of teen crashes are caused by distracted driving.
The summer months also bring out more pedestrians and bicyclists, and they too are increasingly distracted by smartphones, putting everyone on the road in danger.
“As summer brings more distractions and congestion to our roads, it’s important to educate all drivers about the risks of distracted driving and encourage them to stop using smartphones and eliminate other distractions while driving,” said Passmore. “Continued support for the implementation and enforcement of distracted driving laws, which discourage texting while driving and ban handheld cellphone use, also is critical to prevent tragedies.”
Simple modifications to driver behaviors can prevent auto crashes and save lives. PCI offers the following tips for safe summer driving.
PCI’s Top 8 Safe Summer Driving Tips:
- Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk, text, or use apps while driving. Put the phone down and just drive. Try to limit other distractions, such as eating or fiddling with controls, and be aware that having more passengers in the car multiplies the opportunity for distraction. Secure pets in the back of the car.
- Wear your seatbelt. Whether you’re traveling to see friends or family or just running errands, buckle up and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. With more people on the roads during the summer months, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for auto crashes increases. Plan routes in advance when traveling to new destinations and be patient.
- Designate a driver. Summer holidays are notorious for drinking and driving. If you plan to drink at a summer celebration, always designate a sober driver or arrange for a taxi or ride service.
- Pay attention to your speed. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones. Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction. Be especially cautious around construction workers. They’re often working close to the highway and at great risk.
- Beware of crash taxes. Although crash taxes have been banned or limited in several states, many cities, counties, and fire districts will charge the at-fault driver for the emergency response costs of a crash. Fees can range from $100 to more than $2,000, and a typical insurance policy does not cover those costs.
- Have a plan for roadside assistance. If you’re involved in a crash, beware of unscrupulous towing companies. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident by charging excessive fees and making it difficult for people to retrieve their cars. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready.
- Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road this summer, replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can provide current proof of insurance during a traffic stop.
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