It would be very easy for motorists in Illinois to wrongfully assume that the most dangerous time to drive is during the winter. After all, the state sees its fair share of snow, sleet and freezing rain during the colder months, all of which can make it far more difficult to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Despite the common belief that inclement winter weather is the biggest concern for traffic safety, collision statistics actually paint a very different picture. The season when people might assume that road risk is at its lowest is when their chance of a crash is actually highest. This summer months experience an uptick in deadly collisions most years. What makes the warmest season so dangerous for Illinois drivers?
Drunk driving, especially around holidays
Better weather means ball games, barbecues, beach trips and lots of alcohol at all of those events. Not only does the summer overall see a small but noticeable increase in drunk driving crashes, but the summer holidays are some of the deadliest days all year for impaired driving collisions. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day all see a reported spike in drunk driving crashes.
Teen drivers out on the roads
Young adults do drive all year round, but they are generally off the roads during the day because of school for much of the year. Researchers refer to the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the 100 deadliest days of the year for teen drivers. Young adults are far more likely to cause or die in collisions during the summer than they are throughout the rest of the year. Distraction, lack of experience at the wheel and intoxication play a role in many of these collisions.
Summer road trips
Driving to the next town over for a family reunion or heading to Lake Michigan for the weekend will mean traveling on unfamiliar roads. Even using GPS navigation systems will cause some degree of distraction, and drivers on unfamiliar roads may end up performing illegal or unpredictable maneuvers that lead to crashes. Both of those out of their comfort zones and those that encounter tourists may have elevated crash risk during the summer months.
All of these factors make the warmest season the most dangerous time to drive. Understanding what contributes to summertime collision risks may help people to make choices that keep them a safer on Illinois roads this year.