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Summer Driving Tips for Newfoundland and Labrador

A car's side mirror reflecting a sunset on an open road, illustrating summer driving safety in Newfoundland.

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Driving during the summer, especially over a holiday weekend, increases your odds of being in an accident. High traffic volume, roadwork, impaired drivers, and erratic driving behaviours contribute to the risks. Summer is also when teen drivers hit the roads in force. Young Drivers of Canada calls the summer months the “100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers” due to the significant increase in fatal crashes involving teens during this period.

Auto insurance claims often rise in the summer months in Canada due to several contributing factors. Summer is a popular time for road trips and vacations, leading to increased traffic and higher volumes of vehicles on the road, which can result in more accidents and, consequently, more insurance claims. Additionally, summer is peak construction season, with more roadworks and detours that can lead to accidents. The break from schools and colleges means there are more young and inexperienced drivers on the roads, increasing the likelihood of accidents. While winter conditions are notoriously hazardous, summer weather can also bring challenges such as heavy rain, thunderstorms, and hail, leading to accidents and damage claims.

Tips to Help You Stay Safe on the Roads

Fight Fatigue

Fatigue can affect any driver. Summer driving often involves long distances, and everyone is eager to reach their destination. However, it’s not worth the risk. Approximately 20% of all motor vehicle crashes involve drowsy driving, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

Driving for extended periods can mimic the effects of driving under the influence. NSF research found that being awake for 17-19 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol content of .05%. This results in decreased reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Beyond 19 hours, performance equals a blood alcohol content of .1%.

Signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
  • Excessive yawning
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Missing road signs or exits due to daydreaming
  • Restlessness, irritability, and aggressiveness

Avoid driving during naturally drowsy periods (12-6 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.). If you feel fatigued, stop and rest. Take a 20-minute power nap or walk around to get your blood flowing. Use this time to check your vehicle’s tire pressure and fluid levels.

Stay alert by playing music or listening to a podcast. Some people choose music they dislike to stay awake, while others prefer music that energizes them. Lowering the cabin temperature can also help. If you’re too sleepy to keep your eyes open, find a safe place to pull over and rest.

Avoid Distractions

On long car rides, distractions can be tempting. Plan ahead by packing games and snacks for kids and keeping your phone out of reach. Set your phone to auto-respond to texts and use hands-free solutions if you must take calls.

Stay Alert for Impaired Drivers

The longer and later you drive, the higher the chance of encountering impaired drivers. If you see someone driving erratically, distance yourself from them. Have a passenger record the license plate and vehicle details and call 911 to report the driver.

Plan for Summer Storms

Summer in Newfoundland and Labrador can bring thunderstorms, heavy winds, flooding, and hail. Before you leave:

  1. Check the weather forecast and prepare your vehicle.
  2. Ensure your windshield wipers, battery, tire pressure, and tread are in good condition.
  3. Clean your car’s external cameras.

In slippery conditions:

  • Avoid using cruise control.
  • If you lose control, steer in the direction of the skid.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Avoid stopping when going uphill.

In foggy conditions:

  • Use fog lamps if available.
  • Slow down when entering fog.
  • Adjust your speed to stop within visible distance.
  • Use wipers and defrost to clear the windshield.
  • Use low-beam headlamps (high beams reflect off fog).
  • Follow reflective road markings.
  • Watch for slow-moving or parked vehicles.
  • Avoid changing lanes or passing unless necessary.

Fog can develop quickly, especially near water bodies. If you need to pull over, signal first and pull off as far as safely possible. Use hazard flashers to increase visibility and signal before merging back into traffic.

Plan Ahead for Stops and Charges for Electric Vehicles

Driving an electric vehicle (EV) across Newfoundland and Labrador requires careful planning, especially during the summer when road trips are common. Here are some tips to ensure you have a smooth journey with your EV:

Map Out Charging Stations

Before hitting the road, map out the locations of charging stations along your route. Newfoundland and Labrador have a growing network of EV charging stations, but they are not as ubiquitous as gas stations. Apps like PlugShare, ChargeHub, and the Newfoundland Power EV Charging Network can help you find charging points.

Plan for Longer Stops

Charging an EV takes longer than refuelling a gasoline car, so plan for longer stops. Use this time to rest, grab a meal, or explore local attractions. This way, the wait becomes a pleasant part of your trip rather than inconvenient.

Check Charger Compatibility

Ensure the charging stations you plan to use are compatible with your EV. Most stations offer Level 2 chargers, but if your vehicle requires a DC fast charger for quicker recharges, confirm their availability along your route.

Summer brings many activities and fun but also risks. By preparing and practicing defensive driving, you can enjoy your trip and arrive safely at your destination.

About Wedgwood Insurance

Wedgwood Insurance has offices in St. John’s & Corner Brook and is Newfoundland & Labrador’s largest independent insurance broker. We provide straightforward home, auto & business insurance advice.

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Author Jamie Ross

Jamie Ross leads the Marketing and Communications team at Wedgwood Insurance, renowned as one of Atlantic Canada’s premier independent insurance brokers. Bringing a wealth of experience amassed over many years at some of Canada's most esteemed advertising agencies, Jamie transitioned to the insurance industry in 2017. This pivotal move has marked a period of significant professional growth and contribution to the field. A native Nova Scotian, Jamie has been a resident of St. John's, NL, since 2011, where he has become an integral part of the local community. Learn more about Jamie.

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