8 summer driving safety tips you need to follow
The recent heatwaves that have hit the UK has seen temperatures regularly go over 30°C in many parts of the country.
While this is great for holidaymakers who are heading to the beach, driving in hot weather can pose some challenges and risks to the health and safety of drivers and passengers.
It doesn’t matter if people have brand-new ford cars or used cars, before hitting the road there are a number of summer driving safety tips you should follow and here we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones.
For the driver
Research has shown that a lack of hydration can cause as many driving accidents as those influenced by alcohol. The research found that company car and van drivers that failed to keep themselves sufficiently hydrated made as many mistakes on the road as drink or drug-drivers.
As the body loses and needs to replace around 2-3 litres of water daily, it is important to replace this.
Drive Tech, who offer driver awareness courses and help drivers make better decisions in over 95 countries, says it is important that during hot spells the driver keeps hydrated.
“It seems obvious to say, but it’s very easy to forget to be drinking water while on the road. Make sure to have the recommended amount of water in your vehicle at the start of your journey and drink the water in equal quantities during each break from driving.
“The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid a day, and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid. That’s about eight glasses of 200ml for a woman, and 10 glasses of 200ml for a man.”
Reduce speed and increase alertness on country roads
Although you should be alert and not drive too fast anytime of the year, Oliver Hammond, who is the editor for Petroleum Vitae, says this is especially important on country roads during the summer.
He adds, “Reducing speed and increasing alertness when driving on country roads is advisable at all times of the year but particularly in sunny weather when more motorists will be inclined to head to the countryside.
“Some drivers will be unfamiliar with rural driving completely, others could simply be on a particular road for the first time, while a number may be spurred on by the sun and fresh air to drive faster than normal, all unaware of sharp bends, dry stone walls, farm entrances and other hazards.
“Reducing speed approaching bends and uphill stretches is recommended and it’s also good practice to turn down the volume of music when negotiating unfamiliar and particularly narrow roads or those with poor visibility. Driving more cautiously on country roads in the summer will also keep cyclists, walkers and animals safer.”
Have a goody bag of essential spares in the boot
In higher temperatures your car engine’s temperature will naturally increase and this means more oil will be consumed and the oil will be thinner.
Niall Julian, who runs the Take to the Road site, recommends that drivers have a bag of spares in their boot over the summer.
“Some classic car owners like to have a bag of spares for those ‘just in case’ situations. This can include a set of spare spark plugs, distributor rotor arm and a fan belt. Even having a small 1-litre bottle of engine oil is a good idea. As you never know when you might suddenly need to make a road side repair or top-up. Especially when you own a classic car!”
Consider summer allergies
Hay fever can be very problematic when it comes to driving as you don’t want to be sneezing at the wheel of a car when you’re driving at 70mph.
Hay fever tablets are known to have some side effects such as blurred vision and drowsiness, which can impair a person’s ability to drive.
If you are going to take some hay fever tablets it is important that you check the labels of the medication before you drive.
For the car
Keep your windscreen clean
The glare from the sun has been known to cause a lot of accidents, but doing something as simple as cleaning your windscreen and replacing old windscreen wipers can help you.
Oliver Hammond, adds, “Maintaining visibility is so important when driving and summer sun glare can pose a serious safety issue. Before setting off, a driver should make sure that their car's windscreen and wipers are clean and that the screen wash is topped up, especially if a long journey is involved.
“This will reduce the effects of sun glare and help keep the windscreen clear of bugs and other dirt that accumulates quickly in summer months. Keeping a pair of sunglasses in the car is highly recommended and shorter drivers may benefit from sun visor extenders that are available from a variety of physical and online stores, which are often tinted for added protection.”
Drive Tech, who are part of the AA, agree that keeping a car’s windscreen clean is a must.
“Dazzle from the sun causes lots of accidents but you can reduce the effect by keeping your windscreen clean, replacing worn or damaged windscreen wipers and keep a clean pair of sunglasses in your car all year round.”
Check your tyre pressures
Tyre blowouts are a more common occurrence in hotter weather with under-inflated tyres becoming even more aggravated in higher temperatures.
Niall Julian from the Take to the Road blog, says, “With older cars it is sometimes hard to find out what pressure you should have in your tyres. Getting the pressures wrong can affect your fuel economy or worse still the car’s breaking and handling. Which isn’t good. Classics don't always come with a handy sticker on the car with the psi numbers printed on them. So if you are lucky to have an original manual with your classic, check what the manufacturer recommends. And if you haven't got that then check with a classic car club.
Check your coolant before it gets too hot
If you’ve left your car in the sun, a vehicle’s interior can exceed 50°C and it is therefore important that you keep your vehicle cool.
Take to the Road’s Niall Julian stresses the importance of checking your coolant. “We've had a bit of a heatwave in the UK over the past few weeks. Which is always a test for a classic car’s cooling system. Always make sure you refresh your coolant. It is not worth the risk especially if you get stuck in a traffic jam.
“You can get little testers which will let you know if your coolant quality has dropped. And if your car likes to leak a little coolant, always keep a spare bottle of coolant and distilled water handy. Topping up with distilled water is recommend, as just using tap water can be bad for the water pump and the radiator.”
Get your air conditioning checked
There is nothing more uncomfortable than driving on a hot, sticky day without any air conditioning to cool you or your car down.
The last thing you want to happen is for it to stop working and it is highly recommended that you get it inspected before you plan going on a long summer’s drive.
You should book in a regular service that checks your air conditioning and it is recommended that this is done every two years.
As part of the service on your new or old car, the mechanic will replenish liquids used by the system and will make sure everything is in full working order.
Image Credit: Robert Edwards