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Dreaming of California this summer? Not while driving, please! p3

The Fourth of July is coming up, the holiday that many of us look forward to the most. If you aren’t a fan of fireworks, perhaps you enjoy the chance to sit with friends, enjoying a relaxed, extended afternoon, sharing barbecue and tossing back a few beers — or even a nice California wine. The key to maintaining the vibe lies in monitoring your alcohol intake if you’re planning to drive.

You see, according to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Fourth of July is the deadliest day of the year.

While AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days of Summer campaign focuses mostly on teen drivers, the Fourth of July earns its dubious distinction from accident data for all ages, not just teens. In its most recent study, the IIHS found that the Fourth logged 144 fatal crashes; about 10 percent of the victims were teens.

It may strike some as odd that the Fourth of July is the deadliest but not the most heavily traveled holiday. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest night of the year at bars, reports KHN Inc. on its BACtrack.com website. There must be something about summer that makes drivers a little more careless.

We have been talking about the risks of summer driving, and impaired drivers are not the only hazard. Below are a couple of important additions to the list we started in our June 16 post.

  • Road Construction: Road construction picks up during the summer, and the projects can vary from patching a crack to reconstruction. Drivers should be on the lookout for closed lanes, detours and other signs of construction, and they should be prepared to navigate the occasional maze of traffic barrels.
  • Overheating: Both driver and vehicle have a greater risk of overheating during the summer. For drivers, it is especially important to stay hydrated. On long drives or in seriously hot weather, the air conditioning may keep the driver and his passengers from succumbing to the effects of the sun, but running the air conditioning can also strain the vehicle’s engine. In hot weather, it’s important that drivers check their gauges regularly and even give their cars a short break in the shade.

Even if you are driving just a short distance, it pays to be careful, to stay alert and to make sure your vehicle is up to the trip. Stick around to enjoy the lovely Bay Area summer — for many years to come.

Source: Esurance.com, Dangers of Summer Driving, accessed June 17, 2015

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