Summer is, without a doubt, the best time of the year.  We’re all gearing up for family vacations, the sun-kissed appearance of our skin tones, the smells of barbecues and fresh-cut grass.  There’s no greater time in the world.  However, the beautiful and lengthy days of summer also spell out danger and distraction for many drivers on the roads.  While we’re well versed in what to do on the highways, we don’t think much about residential areas and our local roads changing during the summer, but they present some of the biggest issues for drivers during the incredible summer months.

What makes summer more dangerous for drivers?  There are any number of things that can happen to make driving more difficult during every season, but summer has a completely different potential for danger.  As drivers we tend to be more worried about ourselves than what is going on outside those four wheels, but summer presents a different challenge, during which, we’ve got to step up our observational skills and make sure we’re keenly focused on what is happening around us, at all times.  This is both for our safety, and for the safety of those around us.

The first thing we need to be aware of is the influx of children flooding the local roads and neighborhoods.  They’re not in school during the summer, and an abundance of energy usually sends them outdoors.  Whether they’re walking to the local pool, or they’re just hanging out in their own neighborhoods, they’re not always paying attention, especially in the days of smart phones.  This is why drivers have to be hyper vigilant; kids aren’t really looking both ways before crossing anymore, so you’ve got to.  Plus, kids don’t always think before they act and they may just dart out after a ball, or another child.  Keep the speed down, and remain overly cautious when traveling through residential areas.

Another thing that increases during the summer is the number of cyclists and motorcycle riders on the roads.  We know what we have to do to provide them with the safest possible driving experience, but in reality, they’re not all that focused on ours, so we have to be.  Without turn signals, bicycles are hard to keep up with, so make yourself aware of what the hand signals mean.  Motorcycles are able to maneuver in different ways than our cars can, so keep an eye trained on where the biker is headed for maximum safety.  Making sure we’re always aware of their presence is the safest way to avoid collision with them, or make adjustments for sudden movements.

With the population booming in your area, especially if you live in a beach town, there are more people taking up the local space.  There’s more people heading into Target, eating at the best hometown hot spot, and taking in a movie on a rainy day.  This means there are more people making stupid moves in parking lots, as well.  Patience and perseverance are going to be keys measures to making it through the summer unscathed.  Pay closer attention, wait for everyone to cross the parking lot before zooming away, and make sure you’re looking out for spot-lurkers when you’re backing out.  It’s going to save you and your insurance company a lot of time and money.

Also accompanying the increased populations is a higher number of people that are inebriated, whether over the legal limit or not, driving back to their homes or hotels.  Summertime means bar and restaurant decks are open, people are having pool parties, and happy hours are getting a little bit happier.  Sure, people are going to drink any time of the year, but there’s something about the summer that draws the crowds for drinking and driving.  If you’re not the one drinking, you’ve got to be the responsible party.  Offer a safe ride to your friends, recommend Uber or taxis, and keep a vigilant eye on the road.  Watch for sudden stops and foolish maneuvers, and make sure you’re the one calling a cab, if you need it.

Summer can be ecstasy if you’re able to enjoy it.  There’s a certain pleasure that accompanies the warmer months for many people, and we should all be able to get out into the sun without issue.  Don’t let a foolish mistake ruin it for you.  Be aware of what is happening in your neighborhood, make better decisions than other drivers and pedestrians, and never allow your state of mind to override your judgement.  Keep it safe this summer, so you can enjoy the next one.