Texans know heat. Summer heat in the Lone Star State is different from other places, sometimes getting hot enough to melt the roadway. Recently, near Crockett, Texas, temperatures soared to over 100 degrees, causing the asphalt to leach an oily liquid onto the highway. This puts drivers at risk since the liquid reduces tire traction and is very reflective at night. While local road crews responded quickly, this incident is just one potential cause of hot weather-related car accidents motorists in the Houston area can face.
Summer Activities Lead to More Accidents
In the latest reporting year, the National Safety Council listed an average of 3,772 fatal car accidents during the months of June, July, and August. In the Houston area, I-45 is already listed as one of the most dangerous roads in the country, with an average of 56 deaths for every 100 miles of road. As more people drive during the summer months, the risk of more accidents goes up.
Road Trips and Vacations
Hot weather encourages people to take road trips to the waterside to cool off, and families often schedule their vacations around summer breaks for the kids. This puts more cars on the road, creating frustrating congestion and driving distractions. A parent who doesn’t usually have their kids in the car can be less focused on the road, leading to a rear-end crash or other types of auto accidents.
Another risk on long vacation drives is drowsiness. While drunk driving accidents often happen because people drive recklessly, fatigued driving is nearly as dangerous since sleepiness affects your ability to concentrate and react quickly. The desire to get to a destination quickly can override a good decision about whether to rest or switch drivers.
Student Drivers Are on the Road
Teenagers out of school often travel by car to work or to visit friends. With less experience and lower impulse control than adults, these young motorists are prone to making mistakes that can lead to catastrophe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projects that teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to die in a car crash.
Stormy Weather Causes Flash Floods and Other Risks
Summer weather in Texas brings violent thunderstorms. Flash floods can cover streets and leave drivers stuck in dangerous waters when their vehicles stall. Heavy rainfall often causes rivers and streams to overflow, washing out roadways and bridges completely. Lightning striking a power pole can send live wires into traffic, putting drivers at risk of electrocution or an accident as they try to avoid danger.
Mechanical Problems and Roadwork – Two Big Factors in Hot Weather-Related Car Accidents
Some issues that cause accidents are related to vehicle maintenance or mechanical problems. For example, tire pressure increases when the temperature heats up, meaning drivers may be riding on overinflated tires on overheated highways. The combination can lead to a blowout and result in a rollover or multi-car accident. Using air conditioning can overwork the engine and burn up oil, leaving a driver in serious trouble if their engine seizes while in heavy traffic.
Another contributing factor in hot weather-related car accidents is that large road construction projects are often scheduled during summertime. There are many issues a driver could face, including:
- Construction workers near speeding traffic
- Debris on the highway
- Sudden lane shifts
- Uneven roads
- Heavy equipment on adjacent lanes
- Confusing directional signs
- Construction vehicles entering and exiting the road
Problems such as an overheated engine or flat tire can cause people to exit their vehicles while on or next to the road. While the driver tends to the issue, they are at risk of being hit by another motorist who may fail to see them. Suppose construction work delays traffic for a significant amount of time. In that case, people might be tempted to get ahead by driving on the shoulder or cutting off other cars with unexpected lane changes.
Hot Weather Brings Out Motorcycles and Pedestrians
Motorcyclists often prefer riding when the weather is warmer. Motorcycles make up just 3% of registered vehicles on the road, yet they account for over 14% of traffic fatalities nationwide. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see, plus they can move among other vehicles more quickly. This puts riders at risk of being caught behind a driver who inadvertently cuts them off or squeezes them between cars when changing lanes.
During the summer, there are more parties, barbecues, and other such events, putting more pedestrians on the streets of neighborhoods and cities. Late at night, revelers may not be watching for vehicles, and drivers may not expect walkers to appear in the street suddenly. Alcohol consumption often plays a part in auto-pedestrian accidents since intoxicated people are slower to react to situations such as someone darting across traffic.
Unexpected Causes of Hot Weather-Related Car Accidents
It may seem strange, but even a choice of footwear can contribute to a crash. Choosing to drive barefoot or while wearing thin-soled flip-flops may cause a driver’s foot to slip off the brake pedal. Flip-flops can also get caught on the pedals, distracting the driver and preventing them from safely operating the car.
Heat exhaustion is a risk if a car has no air conditioning, even if the windows are down for airflow. If a driver is stuck in a traffic jam with no way to cool off, they could faint or suffer other health issues that lead to an accident.
Dehydration can cause dizziness and fainting. Driving during the hottest part of the day is most brutal on both the car and the driver, so always take action to minimize risks. Be sure to check vehicles regularly and keep emergency essentials like food and water in the car. A little forethought and preventative care can help avoid crashes during the summer heat.
Houston Car Accident Lawyers
Regardless of what caused your car accident, you should contact the Houston car accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm immediately. When you are hurt in any motor vehicle accident, it is important to work with an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to handle that type of crash. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.