THE PERILS OF SUMMER DRIVING
July 5th, 2019 | Michael A. Lombardo, III
Summer brings balmy weather, longer daylight hours, vacations, family road trips… and unfortunately, more vehicle accidents than any other time of year. Twenty percent more miles are driven in June, July, and August than in December, January and February. But the increased traffic alone does not account for the 29% increase in accident fatalities in the summer. HKQ Law Personal Injury Attorney Michael Lombardo notes that “There are other factors which we will examine here.”
Why the Danger Increases in Summer?
Road construction projects are typically in full swing during the summer. Confusing traffic patterns and narrow lanes can be daunting, particularly for inexperienced drivers. (During the summer, teenage drivers spend nearly 50% more time on the road than they do during the school year.) Distracted driving, which accounts for 1 out of 4 motor vehicle crash fatalities, is more prevalent in the summer, rising nearly 8% compared to the rest of the year. Driving in unfamiliar territory while on vacation can create dangerous distractions. Another factor in summer accidents is the significant increase in the number of alcohol-impaired drivers in the summer months. Finally, summer weather conditions can create dangerous situations. Extreme heat coupled with a long drive can contribute to a tire blowout and the loss of control. Another danger stems from sudden rain showers and strong thundershowers that are very common in the summer. These weather events can lead to reduced visibility as well as hydroplaning. (Wet pavement is a factor in nearly two-thirds of all weather-related accidents in the US.)
During the summer, we share the road with vehicles that we don’t typically see in colder seasons.
Given their small size and lack of protective features, motorcycles are one of the most vulnerable vehicles on the road. There really is no such thing as a minor motorcycle accident. A staggering 80% of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death. Motorcyclists are thirty-five times more likely to experience a fatal crash than those in a passenger vehicle per mile traveled. Those riders who survive often suffer life-altering injuries such as brain trauma, paralysis, severed limbs, and spinal cord trauma. The resulting medical costs can be overwhelming.
In two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle rider’s right of way and caused the accident. Motorcycle accidents can also be caused by poorly designed or maintained roads, resulting in liability on the part of the governmental agency responsible for the road. Sometimes, a manufacturing or design defect leads to a motorcycle accident. This can give rise to a Defective Product or Product Liability claim.
Recreational vehicles include motorhomes, camper trailers, fifth wheel trailers, popup campers, travel trailers, and toy haulers. RVs are prone to issues such as blind spots, lengthy braking distance and lack of maneuverability. A high center of gravity can lead to rollovers. Because of their sheer size, the larger RVs can pose a significant risk to automobiles. (Some recreational vehicles can be 40-feet long and weigh up to 30,000 pounds.). Features like propane tanks, appliances, and power generators can exacerbate the potential risks in the event of a crash.
RV drivers often travel long distances leading to driver fatigue which can result in an accident.
During the summer it is not uncommon to pass or be passed by boats being towed.
Unfortunately, trailers are prone to swaying or becoming unstable even with a slight incorrect movement of the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) some 50,000 “hitch accidents” occur every year.
Some accidents are caused by the failure of the driver properly attaching the trailer hitch and securing the cargo. Other causes can include excessive speed, faulty brakes or a manufacturing defect.
Contrary to their name, ATVs are not designed to go anywhere and everywhere. In Pennsylvania, riding an ATV on a street or highway is prohibited, unless the road is designated as an ATV road or the driver needs to cross. Riding in tree-lined areas and on rough terrain can have fatal consequences.
Like motorcycles, ATVs offer little protection compared to a passenger vehicle. ATV riders involved in crashes suffer the same kind of life-threatening injuries as motorcyclists. Between 1982 and 2014, more than 628 people in Pennsylvania lost their lives in ATV-related crashes. That was the third highest figure in the entire country.
Although ATV accidents are often caused by a rider’s negligence, there are cases when another party is at fault. In addition, an ATV accident can be the result of a design or manufacturing defect.
Increased Risk for Pedestrians and Bicycle Riders
While we’ve concentrated on vehicles often involved in accidents, it is important to keep in mind that the increased vehicular traffic during the summer puts pedestrians and bicycle riders at greater risk. In 2018 crashes in Pennsylvania involving pedestrians claimed 201 lives, up from 150 the previous year. Riders should always wear a helmet and follow all the rules of the road.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured in an accident involving a vehicle, and you believe someone else was responsible, call HKQ Law at (800)-760-1529 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.