Statistically, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are some of the most dangerous for drivers in the United States. This is due to more teen drivers, motorcycles and bicycles being on the road, more people taking family road trips and, of course, construction. Summer weather also contributes to the number of fatal accidents. We’re well into summer now, but in retrospect, we almost always remember the weather as being hot and sunny. We tend to forget or block out the potentially dangerous thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions that can be prevalent during this season.
Here are some tips to help your fleet drivers minimize the damage and danger of hot and wet summer weather.
Extreme hot temperatures
It’s very important to check your tires regularly for both wear and proper level of inflation during the summer. High temperatures cause air to expand, and expanding air inside your tires could cause enough pressure to lead to a blowout if the tires are worn out enough.
The chance of your engine overheating increases during hot weather, especially if you rely heavily on your air conditioner. A good preventative measure is to regularly check your coolant fluid level, ensuring it exceeds the minimum level on its reservoir before driving. Also, keep a good eye on the temperature gauge while you’re driving. If it starts to get a bit too hot (past the halfway mark), turn off your air conditioner immediately and blast your heater on its highest temperature at the highest fan setting, which will help cool off your radiator. If your engine is overheating, pull over to let it cool down completely before you do anything else like checking coolant fluid or system hoses.
Wet Summer Weather
Thunderstorms and Lightning
Make it part of your safety policy that your fleet vehicle drivers should pull over when a storm with lightning and thunder approaches. The heavy rain itself may be dangerous to drive in and cause low visibility, but more importantly lightning can span horizontally over many miles before striking the ground. A storm that seems far away can suddenly become dangerously close. If lightning strikes the ground near your vehicle, it can cause sudden flashes that could result in temporary blindness.If you can’t pull over and wait out the storm, then it’s important for drivers to take these precautions:
- Beware of any flooded roads or downed power lines
- Drive slowly, allow more space for braking, and approach intersections with extreme caution
- Make sure your headlights are turned on
Hail tops the list as the most dangerous and costliest result of a thunderstorm. Hail causes over $1 billion in damage annually to vehicles, homes, and crops in the U.S. alone. Nearly all thunderstorms produce hail, but it usually melts before it hits the ground. Depending on where you are in the U.S., hail season typically lasts from March through September, but just like thunderstorms, hail can happen any time of year. Also just like with thunderstorms, it’s best practice to simply stay off the road when hail is called for in the weather forecast. If you are already driving when hail starts to come down, be sure follow these tips:
- Stay in your vehicle. Hailstones can be as large as 6 inches in diameter and can cause serious injuries – or even death – if they strike a person in the head. Even a small piece can hurt you or knock you unconscious.
- Turn on your low beams and pull over. A moving vehicle significantly strengthens a hailstone’s impact, increasing any potential damage or danger. Try to find a safe overpass or a service station that could provide temporary shelter.
The best preventative measure at the start of every new season is to have your vehicles thoroughly inspected to make sure they are prepared for any sort of conditions that your drivers may face. Also, just being aware that there are more vehicles on the road during the summer and the possible weather conditions can help drivers prepare mentally and drive accordingly.