06/14/2016

Driver Digest: Preparing for Summer Roads

summer traffic highway

Next week marks the official beginning of summer in North America, and for many it is a season filled with warmth, fun, and adventure, but according to the Department of Transportation, summer is the most dangerous driving season. During the summer, ailing road infrastructure is magnified with an influx of traffic, leading to more accidents and potential safety hazards. A recent survey by AAA found that 70% of motorists traveling this summer are concerned over road conditions and being stuck in traffic1. This means that many truck drivers transporting freight will also be enduring these summer road conditions. Although road conditions can’t be controlled, knowing what to expect during trips can help you stay prepared and safe.

Aging road infrastructure is always a problem regardless of the season. An average of 49% of roads are considered in poor or mediocre condition in the U.S2 causing damage to their vehicles due to these conditions. In fact, poor road conditions have cost United States drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the past five years3. Unlike smaller vehicles, trucks can’t maneuver to avoid road damages such as potholes. However, decreasing your speed can minimize the impact on your trucks as well as the chance of worsening the roads4. It’s also important to secure everything within your vehicle during pre-trip inspections so that the impact of a pothole keeps freight and any items in your cab secure.

Roads and bridges across the country have been showing signs of aging with identifiable potholes and other damages. Many local and federal governments are working to improve roads and choose to have construction during the summer when the weather and daylight is ideal. Unfortunately, with construction come more delays in traffic and possible detours.

As gas prices remain affordable, more travelers also hit the roads. Truck drivers should plan ahead during these times and be mindful of possible delays especially around popular summer destinations like shores and lakes. Checking for traffic patterns before starting a trip will allow you to prepare with an efficient amount of fuel and better expectations of what traffic delays may exist. Drivers can also prepare for these safety hazards by maintaining a safe following distance and being prepared for sudden stops while in traffic.

Although poor road and traffic conditions are out of your control, you can control how you prepare and be proactive to ensure your safety. Make sure to conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection before each trip, no matter the season. Summer roads may be more difficult to maneuver and ensure a timely delivery, but being proactive and prepared can help you have a safe and successful season.

Sources

  1. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/overview-of-fatality-facts/2014
  2. http://www.transporttopics.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=42003&t=AAA-Says-70%25-of-Drivers-Worried-About-Poor-Road-Conditions-This-Summer-
  3. https://www.transportation.gov/policy-initiatives/grow-america/road-and-bridge-data-state
  4. http://www.trucking.org/article.aspx?uid=3fefaea4-533d-4b14-8820-36411b9167a9