The summer is the peak of tourist season in most regions and almost every city in the US sees a surge of vacationers when the weather gets warm and the kids are out of school. This is a great time for the city's economy as tourists fill your hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and museums bringing business and spreading vacation cash around.
However, for professionals who live on the roads like field service, delivery, or business logistics, tourist season is an even bigger annual hazard than the icy roads of winter.
It's not just that there are more cars on the road increasing traffic compression and travel time, it's that tourists don't know the city. They make foolish mistakes that could cause wrecks and, unfortunately, it's your job as fleet managers and professional drivers to take control of the situation.
After all, the road is your workplace and tourists are your guests. Oblivious though they may be. During this tourist season, here at Wilmar, we'd like to help by providing some helpful tips for how to safely cope with the flood of confused strangers gleefully filling your streets while still getting your daily work finished.
Watch Out For:
1) Hotel Street and Restaurant Row
The busiest spots in the city will be the hospitality districts. Mainly, the streets that feature several hotels clustered together and the rows of restaurants near the major highways where vacationing families gather for their meals.
These, along with shopping malls and specific tourist traps are the most likely to be teeming with pedestrians and cars that don't know the city and aren't thinking about all the people who need the road for non-vacation purposes.
If you can, avoid these areas entirely during peak tourist season. Plan your routes to stay off the surface streets that lead to hotels or restuarant clusters to reduce your overall encounter with tourists.
2) Tourists Driving Slowly Who Don't Know The Area
Of course, visitors to the city aren't actually contained to specific neighborhoods. No matter where your routes take you, there is always a chance you will wind up stuck behind or otherwise waiting on a tourist who is driving half the speed limit and clearly has no idea where they are going.
Chances are, if you look closely, they are probably trying to read a map or are fighting with their GPS navigation device while they slowly pass each side street, stopping to read the sign and rolling on at a glacial pace.
Have patience with tourist drivers and pass them whenever you can. Don't be afraid to be a little daring, but try not to blaze by in an aggressive pass. That will only scare and slow the tourists further.
3) Tourists Driving Recklessly, and Possibly Drunk
On the flip-side of the slow cautious tourists trying to read their maps are tourists who have decided to take their rental car out for a test run.
Maybe it's teenagers on spring break, someone in the throes of a mid-life crisis, or just a drunk tourist who thinks racing on strange freeways is a good idea. Be very very careful about reckless tourists on the road because they may be feeling no pain and not considering long-term consequences.
Just like seeing any other reckless driver on the road, keep your distance. Think of them as a road hazard that could speed up, hit the brakes, or swerve into another lane at any moment and don't allow your vehicle to be in range if that happens.
If you are put in harms way, lay on the horn and get away as quickly as possible using turn signals to let the cars around you know you're about to take evasive maneuvers. And whatever you do, do not make tourists think you want to race.
4) Careless J-Walkers in Shopping and Tourism Areas
Finally, when driving surface streets, watch out for tourists who think any old place is good enough for a cross-walk. J-walking is the tourist signature, especially in areas with a lot of tourist attractions like outlet malls and downtown among the museums and attraction facilities.
During the tourist season, expect to see a lot of people crossing the street where they shouldn't and be prepared to lay on the brakes. If there is a flow of traffic you're worried about, tap the brakes twice as you hit them if at all possible to alert the car behind you of the imminent abrupt stop.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a fleet manager or professional driver who likes driving during tourist season and coping skills are absolutely necessary.
Whether your goal is to make good time despite slow tourists or keep your bumpers intact despite crazy tourist or just not to hit anyone while doing your daily rounds, remembering the hazards and their likely locations is the best way to keep business moving as usual despite tourist season.
And on the bright side, you do get to see some great displays of summer fun when tourists cross at stoplights. For more apt fleet management tips, contact us today!