Hot weather hazards in Texas can make driving more risky than ever. With extreme temperatures that linger well into September and October, it’s essential to understand how the scorching heat can affect your car.
From overheating engines to tire blowouts, these hazards can lead to dangerous situations on the road. Here’s how you can protect your vehicle and stay safe in the Texas heat.
Why is hot weather more dangerous for drivers on the road?
Hot weather is dangerous for drivers on the road due to several factors:
- Increased road congestion: Summer weather attracts more drivers, causing heavier traffic and higher collision risks. Warmer days and longer daylight hours also encourage road trips, adding to the number of vehicles on the road.
- More construction zones: Summer brings more road work and construction zones. Driving through these areas is risky for drivers and road workers. Distracted drivers may miss “Road Work” signs, construction machinery may block roads, speed limits and lanes can change suddenly, construction zones may lack clear markings, and bright sunlight can obscure road signs.
- Increased presence of pedestrians and bicyclists: Summertime sees more pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users taking advantage of the pleasant weather, contributing to a higher risk of collisions.
- More motorcycles on the road: Motorcycle riders also take advantage of good weather, but the denser traffic increases the likelihood of collisions with motor vehicles.
- Vehicle damage: High heat can cause damage to cars and lead to mechanical issues such as dead batteries, worn windshield wipers, broken drive belts, and tire blowouts.
- Visibility issues: Bright sun in summer can make it difficult for drivers to see objects in front of them, posing a risk, especially for inexperienced drivers.
- Driver impairment crashes: Summer parties often involve alcohol consumption, leading to an increase in impaired drivers on the road. Alcohol impairs reaction time and decision-making, increasing the chances of collisions. Summer accounts for 28% of drunk driving-related fatalities — making it the deadliest season of the year. Fall closely follows summer, contributing to 27% of driving under the influence fatalities.
How can you drive safely in hot weather?
To stay safe while driving during hot weather, here are some important tips to follow:
- Check tire pressure regularly: Underinflated tires combined with hot pavement can lead to a blowout. Monitor and maintain the recommended tire pressure to avoid crashes. For every 10 degrees of increased temperature, your tires can be expected to increase by 1-2 pounds of pressure.
- Inspect the cooling system: Regularly check the coolant level and look for any signs of leaks to prevent engine overheating.
- Monitor the engine temperature: Pay attention to your car’s temperature gauge and pull over if it rises significantly. Allow the engine to cool down before continuing and seek professional help if the problem persists.
- Check the battery: High temperatures can shorten the life of your car battery. If your battery is older or showing signs of weakness, have it tested or replaced.
- Maintain proper fluid levels: Extreme heat can degrade engine oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Regularly check their levels and top them up as needed.
- Park in the shade: Whenever possible, park your car in the shade to minimize sun exposure. Consider using a windshield cover if shade is unavailable.
- Level up your driving skills: Be cautious of inexperienced or distracted drivers, particularly during the summer when new teen drivers are on the road. Consider taking a defensive driving course to enhance your understanding of potential hazards and how to avoid them.
- Track local temperatures: Stay informed about the weather conditions in your area using a weather app, allowing you to plan and prepare accordingly.
If your vehicle breaks down in hot weather, it’s important to prioritize your safety. Avoid exertion when repairing the vehicle yourself and seek professional assistance if needed.
What to do if you’re in a crash?
Driving in hot weather has unique dangers for vehicles and passengers, and staying safe is all about preparation. However, if you find yourself in a car crash, it’s crucial to take the necessary steps to ensure your safety.
First, prioritize your well-being and seek medical attention for any injuries. Next, document the scene, gather witness information, and take photos if possible. Then, contact the authorities to report the incident. Lastly, if the crash was caused by someone else’s negligence, consider reaching out to a qualified personal injury attorney who can help you recover the full value of your injuries and losses.