The lazy-hazy days of summer do not mean lazy-hazy driving. Be aware of other drivers and stay focused.

Drivers commonly believe that summer driving is easier than winter driving. While it’s true that road surfaces are clearer in summer than winter, the warmer months typically see more vehicles on the road. All those extra drivers represent more risk and make it tougher to get to your destinations.

In July and August, the warm weather, clear roads, and school vacations bring vacationers out on the roads, resulting in more collisions. The summer vibe is laid back and lazy, but it also makes the life of a professional driver more difficult and more dangerous.

The professional driver tackling summer traffic needs to be aware that many drivers are already mentally in vacation mode, thinking about being at their destination, rather than getting to the destination. They may forget to check their mirrors or blind spots before changing lanes, they may be speeding, and they may try to beat the light in their rush to get out of the city. Anticipating other drivers’ actions should be on the radar of anyone who drives for a living.

Anticipating their actions is a good start. Expect vehicles to be loaded up and people to make last-minute lane changes at exits. Create space between other vehicles and your vehicle to allow room for a quick lane change by either driver. Don’t put your life in the hands of the driver next to you. Glance at their wheels as the vehicle moves toward lane markings; it may give you a few extra seconds to judge if they’re switching lanes. Signals may mean very little except to tell you they work, since many drivers don’t signal their intention anyway. Sometimes those few seconds can mean avoiding a collision.

Don’t forget how excited vacationers are to get away. Remember that some of those excited drivers are traveling behind you. Frequent mirror checks will keep you aware of their position should you need to brake suddenly. Monitor the mirror while stopped, too, and plan where you need to go to escape a rear crash. Distracted vacationers can be threats to those already stopped at red lights or in heavy traffic.

Staying focused on your own driving can be difficult for professional drivers in the summer months, as well. Summer breezes and feel-good days offer more distractions and temptations to play music or daydream, taking your mind away from your driving. When traffic intensifies, remove the distractions and focus on the task of driving. There will still be plenty of time to enjoy the summer months on your own terms.

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