Summer driving hazards you probably haven’t thought about

July 5, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

What could be safer than a carefree drive on a sunny summer day? Well, a carefree drive when you've prepped for the unique challenges that summer driving brings. For young drivers, the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day comprise the "100 Deadliest Days," a term coined by AAA, which refers to an increase in the number of accidents among teens during summer break. It's also prime time for road construction, bicyclists and heat-related breakdowns.

GettyImages-1214194482.jpgThese 10 tips can keep you rolling safely this summer:

For your car

1) Ensure your cooling system is heat-ready. 

If it's been a while since you've had your cooling system inspected or flushed, your mechanic can verify that your radiator is leak-free and your pressure cap, hoses and belts are in good shape. They also can check that you have the correct mix of coolant (antifreeze) and water recommended for your vehicle.

2) Check tire pressures and tread depth. 

Driving at highway speeds over hot pavement can push an already compromised tire toward a blowout. Your tires are road-trip ready if they're inflated to manufacturer's recommendations (usually found on a sticker in the door frame or in your owner's manual). It's best to check pressures first thing in the morning when tires are cold. Also, inspect your tire tread to ensure it's not overly worn. You can buy an inexpensive gauge to measure, but in a pinch, use a quarter. If you insert it between the tire treads and can't see the top of Washington's head, you have more than 4/32nd of an inch. Less than that, and your tires are ready for replacement (new tires have 10/32nd). They're considered bald and dangerous at 2/32nd. Make sure your spare tire is inflated, too, and consider carrying a product like Fix-a-Flat, an aerosol that can inflate and temporarily seal a small puncture long enough to get you to a repair shop.

3) Top off fluids if they're low. 

That includes your oil and automatic transmission, power steering and windshield washer. Your mechanic can handle these at the same time they check your cooling system.

4) Make sure your battery is fully charged. 

Most batteries start to lose strength when they're between three and five years old. Running the air conditioner in hot weather adds strain and can push a weak battery over the edge.

For drivers

5) Pack mindfully. 

Excess weight drags down gas mileage and, if extreme, can compromise safety. If you're in doubt, check your owner's manual for your vehicle's acceptable load limit, taking into account passenger and luggage weight.

6) Wear sunglasses. 

Glare is fatiguing, leading to drowsy driving, and can boost your risk of an accident since it impairs visibility.

7) Listen to weather reports. 

Sudden thunder showers can create hazardous conditions, especially when accumulated road oil becomes slick with rainwater. Instead of trying to power through a downpour, pull over in a safe location and wait it until it passes.

8) Watch the temperature gauge. 

If your car starts overheating, you may be able to limp to safety by turning on the heat full-blast. As miserable as that sounds on a hot day, it may displace enough heat from the engine to allow you to get to a repair shop. If the gauge is hitting the red zone, though, pull over in a safe location and call for assistance. Depending on the coverages you selected, your PEMCO auto policy may reimburse you for the costs of emergency towing and roadside assistance. (If you're just interested in the basics, PEMCO's coverage might save you money compared to an automobile club membership, which comes with added perks like a travel agency. You can find out costs and add it to your policy by logging in to the GO-PEMCO app or calling your local PEMCO agent or 1-800-GO-PEMCO.)

9) Bring a cooler.

Not only can you keep a supply of refreshing water, a cooler is critical if you or your passengers need to carry temperature-sensitive medication like insulin.

10) Watch out for construction projects and bicyclists. 

Distracted driving, tailgating and speeding are the top causes of construction zone accidents, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Likewise, use caution when approaching bicyclists who often share scenic roads with drivers this time of year. In a recent PEMCO Poll, Northwesterners said both drivers and bicyclists do a less-than-stellar job when it comes to safely sharing the road.


Wherever your travels take you, know that PEMCO is with you 24 hours a day. You can use the GO PEMCO app or call 1-800-GO-PEMCO nights, weekends, holidays or anytime to report a claim.

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