Are Truck Accidents More Common in the Summer?

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summer truck accidents

During the summer, many people like to take advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures by getting out on the road.  However, with the increase of traffic, the chances of getting into a car accident increases as well.  In fact, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, referred to as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, see the most fatal accidents for teen drivers.  Furthermore, research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that the months of June, July, and August are when traffic accidents are at their peak, particularly truck accidents.  

Although many would think driving during the winter months is the most dangerous, the summer is just as hazardous, if not more deadly.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that there is a 30 percent increase of fatal traffic accidents in the summer compared with the winter. 

Reasons for More Accidents in Summer

There are several reasons why traffic accidents, specifically truck accidents, increase during the summer months, including the following:

  • Fatigued driving. Drowsy and fatigued driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States, and truck driving is no exception.  Driving a truck takes a lot of focus and skill to do so safely, which is tiring in itself.  Many truck drivers take advantage of the longer summer days while trying to make deadlines, and in doing so they forgo the right amount of rest needed to operate their trucks safely.  Sleep deprivation causes a loss of focus, impairs ability to make good judgments, and greatly reduces reaction time.  Studies have shown that going for long periods of time without sleep is the equivalent of being intoxicated and is just as dangerous.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) strictly regulates the number of hours a driver can be on the road; however, recent revisions to allow better flexibility may increase the amount of drowsy truck drivers on the road.  It is always best to take appropriate breaks every few hours and get plenty of rest, especially before going on long trips.  
  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving is another leading cause of car accidents, for all drivers.  Cell phone use while driving is illegal in most states, although there are plenty of drivers who ignore the law.  Also, it is easier to lose focus while driving during warm, summer days with the sun out, rather than driving on icy, hazardous roads.  Many drivers inadvertently get too comfortable when it is nice out and easily become distracted.  
  • Increased traffic. A big reason why truck accidents increase during the summer months is because traffic increases as well.  Many people are out enjoying the weather, families are on the road on vacation, as well as younger drivers are out of school.  With major holidays such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day, this all means that the roadways are more congested than usual.  The increased amount of traffic makes navigating a large, commercial vehicle a bit more difficult.   
  • Teen drivers. Young, inexperienced drivers are out more often in the summer, which can make it more dangerous for other drivers.  Inexperienced drivers have trouble judging distances and speeds of other vehicles, are easily distracted by cell phones and other passengers, and often easily lose focus on driving safely.  Younger drivers also may not know how to judge the actions of other drivers on the road, such as knowing how long it takes a commercial truck to stop.  
  • Summer construction. Because the summer brings longer and drier days, many states look to perform necessary road construction that has been put off during the winter.  Construction normally requires lane shifts and detours that can be hazardous to truck drivers and other motorists who are unfamiliar with the area.  Backed-up traffic and unexpected changes can frustrate a driver, which may lead to aggressive driving and tailgating.  
  • Tires. The increased temperature of summer makes the pavement of the roadway much hotter, which can lead to tire blowouts.  When a tire is worn or underinflated, hotter temperatures can exacerbate the tire’s condition, leading to a blowout.  Overinflated tires can experience a blowout when too much pressure is put on them.  A blown-out tire can lead to a disastrous situation for a truck driver and can be hazardous to other drivers as bits of larger tires scatter onto the road.  It is a truck driver’s responsibility to have their vehicles properly and regularly maintained.  
  • Drugs and alcohol. Summer brings a lot of families and friends together to celebrate and party, which usually means that alcohol is consumed.  Unfortunately, there are irresponsible drivers who still get behind the wheel after a drink or two.  According to the NHTSA, traffic-related fatalities when alcohol is involved are nearly doubled during the summer months when compared with the rest of the year.  The most dangerous time to be driving is between midnight and 3:00 a.m., when most drunk drivers are out on the road.  This is extremely dangerous for truck drivers, who are normally out at these times to make deliveries while there is less traffic out.  
  • Motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. Summer is a great time to get out, especially for motorcycle enthusiasts, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  Unfortunately, with their large blind spots, truck drivers may have difficulty seeing them, which can lead to a serious accident.  Large, commercial vehicles also take a long time to come to a stop in emergency situations, leaving no room for error should a pedestrian or motorcyclist appear in front of them.  

An accident with a large, semi-truck will likely end in serious or fatal personal injury and catastrophic property damage.  According to the NHTSA, over 70 percent of people killed in a large truck-related accident are occupants of another vehicle.  Also, these accidents tend to happen during some of the busiest times of the day; about 77 percent of deadly truck accidents occurred during the work week of Monday through Friday, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  

Some of the most common injuries suffered in truck-related accidents include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Amputation
  • Chemical exposure to hazardous cargo
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Head, back, and neck injuries
  • Death

Safe Driving Tips for Summer

Your summer could easily be ruined should you get into an accident.  Here are a few safe driving tips to keep yourself and your family safe this summer:

  • Drive defensively. It is always a good idea to drive defensively, especially when you are around large, commercial vehicles who may not see smaller cars as well.  Maintain a safe following distance between yourself and vehicles in front of you, and keep in mind that drivers of large trucks cannot see you unless you can see their mirrors.  Furthermore, try to anticipate the movements of other vehicles, and never cut in front of a large truck, as they take much longer to slow down and stop.  
  • Keep up with vehicle maintenance. Summer is a good time to have your vehicle serviced by a certified mechanic, especially if you plan on going on a long trip.  Have your oil changed and your tires and brakes checked.  Replace them if needed.  Have your fluids topped off, especially your coolant, as the warmer temperatures of summer can wreak havoc on your engine.  
  • Rest up. Be sure to get plenty of rest before going on a trip, and plan to take breaks if you are going to be on the road for more than a few hours.  Many drivers are unaware of how drowsy they are before it is too late; therefore, if you recognize the signs of fatigue, such as yawning, frequent blinking, and daydreaming, find a safe area to pull off and rest.  
  • Limit distractions. Avoid using your cellphone, eating, and drinking, or performing any other action that takes your focus away from driving, even if it is for a few seconds.  

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Injured by Negligent Drivers

An accident with a large truck can have disastrous consequences, regardless of if you are the truck driver or driving a regular sedan.  If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, reach out to the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton.  Our knowledgeable legal team has years of experience with accidents of this type and will help you get the compensation for which you are entitled.  Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.