Anyone living in Britain knows that when it comes to the weather, anything other than wind and rain is something of a rarity! But that doesn’t mean we shouldn't be properly prepared for hitting the road during our short-lived periods of glorious summer sun.
Driving in hot weather, particularly heatwave conditions, can pose significant challenges and risks to the health and safety of drivers, passengers and passers-by alike. That’s why we've compiled a list of 10 essential summer driving safety tips to help you stay safe (and cool) on the roads this summer.
Give yourself the best chance of a relaxing drive by parking in the shade or using sunshades on hot days. Allowing a few extra minutes to open doors and windows to circulate warm air, or running your air-con will help cool your car down and avoid immediate discomfort from the heat before setting off.
The latest in in-car tech even allows you to pre-set your perfect temperature before setting foot inside. Enjoy the luxury of adjusting up to four-climate controlled zones within your car, meaning you and your passengers are at peak comfort in all weathers.
Car engines get extremely hot in warm weather, especially in standstill traffic, so ensure your coolant is always topped up.
For cars without stop-start technology, it is a good idea to turn off your engine during traffic. Contrary to popular belief, restarting your engine will not burn more fuel than if you had you sat with your engine in ‘idle’ for more than 10 seconds.
It’s extremely important to keep hydrated when stuck in a long traffic jam under the searing sun. Take plenty of cold water with you before heading out on longer journeys – enough for you and all of your passengers. Investing in insulated drinks bottles for the kids is a great way to keep a source of cold water in the car, particularly after a long day of adventure.
According to the NHS, around 10 million people suffer from hay fever in England alone – a condition which can be very problematic when driving.
The last place you want to be constantly sneezing is at the wheel of a car going at 70mph, but hay fever tablets are known to have side effects such as blurred vision and drowsiness, which could impair a person’s ability to drive.
Therefore, always check the label of your medication before taking them – especially if you’re planning on driving shortly afterwards.
On hot, sunny days people flock to beer gardens, barbeques and festivals. As a result, summer drink driving becomes a major problem each year.
Before heading out to a summer social event, consider how you are going to get home. Don’t drink if you’re driving and find another method of transport if you want to drink. This way you can enjoy the hot weather without putting yours and other people’s lives at risk.
Too many people still think it is acceptable to leave their dog in the car during the summer. The RSPCA says that if it’s 22 degrees outside, the inside of a car can reach 47 degrees within one hour, which can lead to dangerous and heart-breaking consequences.
Even parking in shade or leaving the windows down does not make the car a safe place for a dog in summer. So unless you can take your dog with you wherever you go, leave it safely at home.
Impaired vision from the sun is a common cause of accidents during the summer. Replace worn windscreen wipers to help keep your windscreen clean, and use sunglasses and overhead sun visors to help block out the sun from your eyes.
Windscreens also get very dirty in dry weather and marks can amplify sun glare. Plenty of windscreen washer fluid will help you maintain a clear view in the sun – especially when travelling when the sun is low in the sky, typically during your commute.
Tyre blowouts are a more common occurrence in hotter weather.
According to the AA, tyres with existing damage that are under inflated will become even more aggravated in higher temperatures, which increases the likelihood of blowouts and punctures.
Before setting off, it is extremely important to check your tyre pressure is at the optimum level, as well as anything you may be towing.
Drivers have to share the roads with a lot more than just other cars during the summer months. Better weather and longer days attract far more tractors, caravans, horse riders, cyclists and walkers.
It’s vital to remain alert when driving along country lanes in particular, and to avoid any risks when overtaking that could cause an accident.
Motorcyclists appear more often too, so always look twice to ensure you’re aware of what’s around you.
Finally, in Britain we always pay the price for little good weather we get. Be prepared to adapt your driving style in the event of any sharp changes in weather, as driving through heavy summer storms comes with a totally different set of challenges.
How to Transport Your Pooch Safely - Travelling with your dog and how to keep them safe.
Winter Driving Guide - For tips on preparing your car for the cold season, advice on staying safe on the roads.