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Heat Waves Can Cause Car Accidents

When it comes to extreme heat, Ontario keeps beating its own records. With multiple cities and communities surpassing extreme temperatures unseen for decades (and, in some cases, in over one hundred years), it is clear that Ontario’s hot, humid summer months are only going to get more uncomfortable, and more dangerous. 

The beginning of June saw Ontario temperatures soaring, with a record-breaking heat wave plaguing large parts of the province. Between the extreme heat and smoky, hazy conditions from nearby wildfires, Environment Canada issued a high air quality risk level for major cities, including Toronto and Ottawa.

Extreme heat in Ontario can have several negative impacts, including:

  • Health risks
  • Increased mortality rates
  • Reduced air quality
  • Negative agricultural impacts
  • Power grid overloads
  • Infrastructure strain
  • And more

As the world grapples with and adjusts to the ongoing climate change disaster, there is an increased level of awareness about the dangers associated with intense weather events, like extreme heat. Having basic information and facts about heat waves can help mitigate their negative effects, particularly for those who are most at risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, such as the elderly and those suffering from specific health conditions.

But heat waves can have other consequences that may not be as immediately apparent. According to an advisory released by a German automotive crash researcher, heat waves increase the risk of traffic crashes

Why More Car Accidents Occur in the Summer than the Winter

There is a common misconception that, due to the prevalence of icy, snowy road conditions, it is more dangerous to drive in Ontario during the winter than it is in the summer. However, statistics show that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, according to an annual road safety report recently released by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, nearly twice as many car accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities occurred in the summer months than they did in the winter. 

This fact might sound difficult to believe, but there is plenty of statistical research from around the world proving the direct correlation between extreme heat and fatal car accidents. A study examining traffic collisions during heat waves in the continental US recently showed a significant positive association between deadly car accidents and heat waves.

Further studies in Europe have shown similar findings. A study in Spain found that drivers’ performance behind the wheel decreases substantially during extreme heat events. Heat waves can cause increased levels of distraction, fatigue, and irritability, heightening the risks of collisions caused by driver errors.

The most recent advisory made available by the German automotive research company supports these findings. During extreme heat events, drivers often feel more stressed. This can lead to less effective concentration on the road and slower distraction times. As such, people operating motor vehicles during heat waves are more prone to error. Because of that, their likelihood of causing a serious collision is exponentially increased.

Summer weather can influence a driver’s behaviour in other ways, as well. Even those who enjoy warm, sunny days and are not made more irritable, impatient, or aggressive by hot weather are also at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident during the summer. 

Many people take advantage of summer weather to enjoy carefree road-trips, long weekends, and other excursions. Their buoyant summer state-of-mind could have serious consequences, though, especially when it comes to paying attention to the dangers of the road. 

Young drivers in particular are more susceptible to driving distractedly or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in the easygoing summer months. In fact, over 30% of young people involved in fatal drinking-and-driving accidents lose their lives in the summer months.

Safety Tips for Driving in the Heat

The safety of drivers, their passengers, and other road-users is determined by the actions and behaviours of motor vehicle operators. It is important to be aware of environmental factors that might trigger unsafe conduct or aggressive attitudes behind the wheel. That is why, in the event of a heat wave, drivers should ensure that they are prepared for the driving conditions, both physically and mentally.

Since the extreme heat can lead to increased aggravation and irritability, drivers who are susceptible to anger and frustration behind the wheel might benefit from practicing mindfulness in order to control their road rage. Several best practices could help reduce the stress of driving in the extreme heat, such as leaving with plenty of time to reach a destination, listening to calming music, and focusing on deep breathing to reduce anxiety.

Choosing the proper attire for a car ride in a heat wave can also help avoid a collision. Wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothing can help keep a driver cool, but special attention should be paid to footwear. Wearing flip-flops or driving barefoot during extreme heat events can increase the chances of a collision. Shoes with firm soles should always be worn when operating a motor vehicle, even during a heat wave. 

Additionally, making sure your vehicle itself is prepared for the heat can help lower the risk of a car accident. It might be useful to get routine air conditioning check-ups to make sure the vehicle’s temperature control is in good working order, especially before sitting in traffic or taking a long road-trip. On top of that, being mindful of where the car is parked can help keep its temperature cool. It is advisable to park in enclosed, indoor garages or under shady trees and awnings to avoid heat build-up as much as possible. Having a sun shade or blind handy in case more protected parking spots are not available could also help control the car’s temperature in a pinch.

Contact Our Ontario Car Accident Lawyers Today

Temperatures in Ontario are continuing to rise. With the increased heat comes the increased risk of being involved in a serious, injury-causing car accident. 

If you have been injured in a collision, do not hesitate to call our Ontario car accident lawyers to receive a free initial consultation. To learn how we may be able to assist you, contact us today.

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