Summer is a dangerous time to drive: more drunk drivers are out on the road, more new drivers are out on the road, and more confused tourists are out on the road.
But even if you take other drivers out of the picture, the summer months still have their own inherent climate-related dangers – especially here in Florida! The heat alone is dangerous for passengers and drivers alike. The most important things to watch out for during the summer months include: tire failure, heat stroke, and an overheated engine.
Tire Failure. We all know that more people are out on the roads and using their cars during the summer months. This over-usage, along with excessive heat, can wear down and cause great damage to your tires. Tire damage and failure causes over 11,000 accidents each year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends checking your tire pressure once every month, especially during the summertime. Deflated tires pose the highest risk for being in a tire-related accident. Neglecting your tires can result in blowouts or tire failure. (On the plus side, a properly inflated tire increases your gas mileage!)
If you have had your car for a few years, check the owner’s manual. You may need to replace your tires or some related parts. Maintaining proper care of your tires and your car will keep you safer and reduce liability if you do get into an accident.
Heat Stroke. Some fatal accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Some accidents happen over the course of a few minutes, but are just as fatal. If you or someone you know accidentally leaves a child in an unsupervised car for a sustained period of time, the child can suffer from heat stroke and die.
Leaving your child in the car is extremely dangerous during the summer months. Your car is like an oven. The inside of a car left in 90 degree heat can reach 109 degrees in 10 minutes. If your body temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit, you can suffer from serious nervous system damage, seizures, and even death. Being left in a closed car most commonly happens when there are new parents with young children because they are not used to having to take a child in and out of their car.
Florida has laws in place to prevent these types of fatalities: if you leave a child under the age of 6 unsupervised in a motor vehicle for over 15 minutes, you will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. And leaving a child unsupervised for any amount of time in a motor vehicle is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction.
Increased awareness about heat stroke has slowly decreased the number of vehicular heat stroke deaths. But in 2015, 25 children still died due to vehicular heat stroke. And so far in 2016, vehicular heat stroke has killed 16 children. Until that number drops down to zero – and stays there – it’s a huge problem.
Overheated Engine. Engines are more likely to overheat in the summertime, for obvious reasons. But there are a few quick ways to keep your engine from overheating.
- Keep extra coolant with you. Kill two birds with one stone: make it a habit to check your coolant levels after you check your tire pressure. An extra bottle of antifreeze in your car will feel like a miracle if you find your engine overheating and your coolant levels low. Water will temporarily help, but should not be your first choice of coolant.
- Turn off the AC. Seems counterproductive, right? But having the air conditioning on requires a lot of engine work. If you see the notification light on your dashboard turn on, turn off the air conditioning. After a few minutes, you might even want to try turning on your heater. The few minutes of sweaty discomfort may save your car, because the heat will be transferred away from your engine to the inside of your vehicle. (And then out your windows as long as you roll them down!)
- Pull over and pop the hood. If your engine continues to overheat, give your car a rest. Open the hood of the car, but wait to handle the parts inside. Even if you have to wait a half hour (the typical amount of time required to properly cool your engine), it is worth saving the damage that could happen to your car – and your body.
Taking proper safety precautions and practicing routine maintenance are key to keeping you and your family safe on the road this summer. But you can only control your own actions. If you are involved in an auto accident this summer due to another’s negligence, take the time to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer today.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 AVVO Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for 2010-2013 and Super Lawyers for 2014-2016.. Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.