Contrary to popular belief, driving in Ontario during the summer can be more dangerous than in the winter. Recent statistics from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s road safety report reveal that the number of car accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities is nearly double during the summer months compared to the winter.
Various studies conducted worldwide have established a direct correlation between extreme heat and fatal car accidents. Research in the continental US found a significant positive association between deadly car accidents and heat waves. Similarly, studies in Europe, including Spain, have shown that driver performance declines during extreme heat events, leading to increased distractions, fatigue, and irritability, thereby heightening the risk of collisions caused by driver errors.
An advisory from a German automotive research company supports these findings, highlighting that extreme heat events can induce stress in drivers, impacting their concentration and reaction times. Consequently, the likelihood of serious collisions caused by driver error significantly increases.
Moreover, summer weather can influence driver behavior in other ways. People tend to embark on road trips and excursions during the summer, which can contribute to a carefree state-of-mind and potential disregard for road hazards. Young drivers, in particular, are more susceptible to driving distracted or under the influence of alcohol and drugs during the relaxed summer months. Shockingly, over 30% of young individuals involved in fatal drinking-and-driving accidents lose their lives in the summer.
It is crucial to recognize and address the risks associated with summer driving, as the higher incidence of car accidents and their severe consequences during this season demand increased caution and responsible behavior on the roads.
The safety of drivers and road users depends on responsible behavior behind the wheel. During a heat wave, drivers should be mentally and physically prepared for the conditions.
Mindfulness practices can help control road rage, while leaving with ample time, listening to calming music, and deep breathing reduce stress. Wearing appropriate attire, including firm-soled shoes, is important. Ensuring the vehicle’s air conditioning is functional and parking in shaded areas or enclosed garages can also prevent heat-related accidents. Consider using sun shades or blinds when shaded parking is unavailable.