Why do people drive worse in the summer?

???? ??? by Marwa Morgan, on FlickrWhen I first read this question, I wasn’t sure you were right. I suspected you believe driving to be worse in the summer because you only notice the bad driving you see in the summer months (this is called confirmation bias). However, I confess my experiences have been similar – and there is some evidence to suggest our observations are accurate:

Most people think that there are more crashes in the cold winter months, but this isn’t so: traffic accidents are higher in the summer months. (Except for a surge in accidents that occurs the day after a snow storm – presumably because drivers haven’t yet adjusted their driving habits to compensate for the snow and put on their snow chains). Evidence for unsafe summer driving? Perhaps so. Speeding tickets tend to be higher in the summer months – again, suggesting a higher number of fast drivers (and speeding probably meets the definition of ‘bad’ driving).

So, are there simply more irresponsible, speeding drivers on the road in the summer?

It’s not that simple – because there are more people on the roads in the summer months (and more traffic congestion). So really, it is no that surprise accidents and speeding tickets increase.

And of course, being a ‘bad driver’ depends on your idea of ‘bad’. Is it driving too fast, driving too slowly, meandering over the road, or driving with a mobile phone?

If there truly are more ‘bad’ drivers in the summer then there are two very good reasons:

  • Less confident drivers tend to stay off the roads in the winter.
  • Driving test pass rates are highest in July-August rime.

Therefore, the summer will almost certainly see an increase in less confident and less experienced drivers.

However, I think there is a factor more important than the season: the make of car that people drive. I am convinced that drivers of a certain small Nissan car are almost all terrible behind the wheel.

But that’s something best saved for another day…
Question from J Joy via Facebook

Answered by Dr Stu

Article by Stuart Farrimond

May 6, 2013

Doctor Stu is editor of Guru Magazine. He originally trained as a medical doctor before deciding to branch out into lecturing, writing, editing and science communication. He drinks far too much coffee, eats lots of ice cream and has a bizarre love of keeping fit.
You can check out Doctor Stu’s blog at realdoctorstu.com or his poncy personal website stuartfarrimond.com. Here's his .

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2 thoughts on “Why do people drive worse in the summer?”

  1. Careful, such an adverse focus on small Nissan automobiles could result in a rather unjust insurance premiums increases for the Nissan car owners. Forget not AskGuru is becoming a widely spread a read phenomenon & with a far reaching impact and consequences.

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