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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Focus on Safety – Summer driving hazards


Summer is on the horizon and that means many of us will be taking to the roadway for travel. Just as winter’s cold, snow and icy conditions create driving hazards, summer driving also has increased hazards. That’s why traffic safety is this month’s focus for our Safer Naper campaign.

Warmer weather means road construction projects and work zones. In Illinois from 2016-2020 on average each year there were 6,078 work zone crashes resulting in over 1,635 people injured (IDOT). When you encounter a work zone – slow down and obey the work zone speed limit. Driving too fast or recklessly is dangerous to workers and motorists alike. Remember, workers need not be present for work zone speed limits to apply.

In construction areas, drivers need to pay particular attention as roadway conditions are often changing. Lane configurations, merging and vehicles slowing/stopping can happen quickly. Drivers need to pay attention, expect the unexpected and increase following distances.

Warmer weather also means we’ll start seeing more motorcycles on our roadways. Motorcycles are often difficult to see because of their small size and can disappear in blind spots. As a result, many fatalities occur when vehicles turn left into the pathway of a motorcyclist, especially at intersections. Drivers should keep an eye out for motorcycles and look twice before turning. Drivers should also increase following distances as motorcycles can stop more quickly than automobiles.

Bicycles create another summer driving hazard. Like motorcycles, bicycles are hard to see and can be even more vulnerable in a crash. It’s important to remember that bicycle riders need to follow the same rules of the road as vehicles. This includes signaling, yielding the right of way and riding on the right side of the roadway. Motorists should still be extra careful of bicycles (especially ridden by children) when backing up, in blind spots and when opening the driver’s side door. It is always a good idea when backing out of a driveway or parking spot to walk around your vehicle to check for kids, pets and objects that may be out of view.

Finally, longer days and warmer temperature bring more people outside. Distracted pedestrians are another summer hazard. Walking while looking at cell phones has been a factor in many unfortunate accidents. Drivers should watch out for pedestrians, especially at night in busy areas such as downtown or shopping areas. Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and look more than once before turning.

Whether driving, bicycling or walking, we all have the responsibility to share the road with other vehicles and users to ensure we all get to our destinations safely. For more tips on driver safety and to learn more about Naperville-specific crash statistics, please visit www.naperville.il.us/asafernaper.

Until next month… Stay Aware and Stay Safe.

Julie Smith
Julie Smith
Julie Smith is Crime Prevention Specialist at the Naperville Police Department. Contact her at SmithJu@naperville.il.us or (630) 305-5450.