Home > Ask Gary > Isn’t summer the safest driving season?

Isn’t summer the safest driving season?

children play streetThe Fourth of July is the most hazardous day on U.S. roads; and August is the deadliest month of the year for American motorists, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More Americans die in car crashes in August than at any other time of the year. The traffic safety agency reports that per 100 million miles traveled, August has an average fatality rate of 1.09, compared with 1.08 for September, the second-deadliest month, and July, at 1.04, is the third-deadliest month. (I would have guessed it was the winter months!)

School is out and safe driving is a summer necessity! Within the next few days, schools in our community will close for summer break. This annual event brings numerous children out in the community to enjoy their well-earned summer vacation. Young children are out during the day, especially by parks, playgrounds and beaches; while teens often congregate outside during the day and in the evening – on foot, bikes, rollerblades and skateboards.

Parents should reinforce safety in crossing streets with their children. Teach your child to always cross at the corner or at a crosswalk, to stop and look both ways, and never cross the street from between parked cars! Be sure they’re not chasing balls or other items into the street without looking first, even if you live on a quiet side street.

Drivers are reminded to be extra cautious around playgrounds, parks, residential areas and recreational facilities where children play. Oftentimes children are excited and preoccupied with playing with friends outside and they don’t pay attention to their surroundings. It is our responsibility as motor vehicle operators to pay special attention to young people.

Here are some common sense tips to help you ensure you’re safe on the road — and ensure your insurance rate stays protected from future increases.

• Obey the speed limit: This may sound obvious, yet many people tend to speed through residential areas where kids play on the streets. Even a 10 mph over-the-limit speed can affect how quickly you can stop your car if a child runs out in front of it. Always drive slowly, take your time at stop signs and stay fully focused on driving when in residential areas during the summer. Plus, even at night, assume kids may be outside and playing on the street.

• Watch for children: Always stay conscious of what’s happening on the street. When pulling out of your driveway or making a turn, kids can come close to your car at any time. If you do see children, take your time and be patient — let them get out of the way completely. Parking lots are also dangerous places, where children often run to their cars.

• Respect the signs: Street signs aren’t just for display — you must obey them at all times. This means avoiding rolling stops at stop signs, yielding to traffic and watching for pedestrians at crosswalks. Running signs or not obeying the road rules can result in an accident or injury, so slow down and pay attention.

• Improper passing of a school bus: Yes, school’s out — but there are lots of kids who attend day camp or summer school, which means that they’re still getting on the bus. If you see school buses on the road in the summer, treat them the same way you would during the school year. Always stop and yield to school buses, watch for children and drive very slowly around parked school buses. Remember it’s illegal to pass a school bus and children usually cross the street in front of the bus.

• Stay patient and calm: The best advice for any driver to heed is to stay cool and calm when behind the wheel. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, be courteous to other drivers and pedestrians, and as they say, “don’t sweat the small stuff!” If you lose your temper behind the wheel, you could lose control of the vehicle and cause an accident, which, in turn, could result in injury or damage to vehicles or property — all cause for higher insurance rates.

Beside the potential for loss of life and property, smart drivers looking to keep their insurance premiums low, know to practice safe driving habits.

Have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

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