When I speak with drivers across our land I often ask them which month of the year has the most collisions. Typically they would answer December, January or February but that’s not always the case. Would you believe July and August have many of the vehicle collisions on our roads on an annual basis? Summer months tend to bring more people on the roads, which makes the job of commercial drivers that much more dangerous. During the snowy winter months, many drivers stay off the roads because of the worsened road conditions. Not so for the summer!
Hitting the roads in the summer means drivers must stay mentally ready for the unexpected. Drivers who are on their way to their vacation spot, the trailer, the cottage or the campground have only one thing on their mind; to get to their location. The driving mentality coming from vacationing drivers can really make it tough for commercial drivers to do their job. And as a commercial driver, you have to stay ready for anything unusual and unpredictable, especially during the busy summer traffic. Changing your driving mentality can help you survive on the roads during the summer months.
The first thing to help you safely deal with summer drivers is to avoid driving in packs as much as possible. The drivers around you and your vehicle may need that exit or turn suddenly and may do a sudden lane change without looking first. One suggestion is attempt to drive beside open space as much as possible. Keeping other vehicles out of your blind spots and you staying out of theirs as much as possible lessens the chance of an incident on these busy roadways.
One of the issues for the would-be vacationers is not always knowing where they are going. Although they may be using a GPS or map or a list of directions, they may still miss their exits or turns or make last minute decisions. As a driver who is on the road constantly throughout the day, be ready for the last minute dodge by a driver who is about to miss their exit. Look for the signs of someone who may be lost. These are drivers who tend to slow down when traffic ahead of them isn’t. They may begin to do a slight fade toward the right of their lane as they check their mirrors or blind spot looking for a way over. If you’ve noticed any of that, adjust your speed as safely as possible or change lanes to help create space to avoid being involved with their error.
Judging the movement of other vehicle can really help drivers respond early to late lane changers. We’ve all seen drivers change lanes without a signal or with the wrong signal, so there is a way to judge their movement ahead of time. Make quick glances of the wheels of the vehicle as it nears pavement markings. If the gap between the wheels and the pavement markings narrow, chances are the driver may be changing lanes. Adjusting speed to allow for an escape for that driver to reach the exit can help you survive on the roads. It’s about being ready and adjusting on a regular basis.
Another thing to watch out for are overloaded vehicles. Vacation items carried on the top of the vehicle or on a trailer being towed by vacationers can become loose and fly off toward your vehicle. If you find yourself following one of these vehicles, increasing following distance or changing lanes can help you avoid the potential hazard. Always watch out for the excited vacationer and expect the unexpected when you’re driving in heavy traffic. And one thing to remember, if the unexpected is expected, it’s not really unexpected.
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