4 summer driving challenges

4 summer driving challenges for commercial drivers

A typical summer has its driving challenges, including road construction and vacationers. But a post-pandemic summer may result in even more congestion as eager Americans hit the road for an escape.

Consider the following driving tips to address four common summer driving frustrations.

1. Congestion

Even though fellow motorists are running alongside commercial drivers all year long, the chances of being in a crash may increase as some highways become more congested due to vacations.

In some cases, it may be more of a matter of “when” a driver enters a specific geographic location than “where.” In the summer, the traffic exiting major metropolitan areas will be heavy on Friday nights/Saturday mornings. The opposite is also true. Your drivers may see a steady stream of vacationers returning from rural resort areas on Sunday afternoons and evenings. Trip planning needs to take into consideration the possibility of seasonal bottlenecks.

Traffic may increase during the last stretch of summer leading up to Labor Day as families take the last opportunity to load up the car and head to a favorite destination.

2. Recreational vehicles

Some members of the motoring public may be operating large recreational vehicles and/or combinations with which they are not accustomed. And your drivers may see personal vehicles and trailers improperly loaded and secured and their contents blocking the motorist’s field of vision.

The commercial driver will be called upon to drive defensively in these circumstances.

3. Construction frustrations

Highway maintenance projects and detours are a more prevalent this time of year. Road construction — plus additional vehicles on the road — is the perfect formula for an accident, road rage, or just delays resulting in the loss of precious hours of service.

Dispatchers and drivers should check state DOT websites to learn of road construction and potential delays. While en route, drivers need to be alert to electronic signs along the highways that indicate delays or road closures. Drivers need to communicate these postings to dispatch for possible guidance on alternate routes.

4. Early school start dates

For some families, school or college is already in session by August. In fact, some school districts hold classes year-round. This will increase traffic during weekdays in some locations.

There may be situations when drivers cannot redirect their route and must drive past a learning institution or in proximity to it. Drivers should be alert to:

  • School zones,
  • Posted speed limits,
  • Traffic congestion as buses and parents shuttle students,
  • Bicyclists,
  • Crosswalks/crossing guards, and
  • Pedestrians.

Even if drivers are nowhere close to a school or university, they may still come upon traffic associated with it. In rural settings, a driver might suddenly approach an unexpected school bus picking up or dropping off students.

Drivers should be trained to:

  • Never pass a school bus that is loading/unloading passengers,
  • Be prepared to stop frequently,
  • Watch for the flashing bus lights, and
  • Always watch for the passengers getting on or off the bus.

Drivers must keep an appropriate distance from the bus, as each state has its own set of traffic laws. They should be instructed on the state laws where they operate.

About the author
Kathy Close - Transportation Editor

Kathy provides regulatory support for a variety of products; her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification, and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

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