We’re about to enjoy – or suffer from – record heat in the UK this week. The summer season is great but high temperatures and congestion on the roads can make driving in the summer a stressful experience.
Here are our top ten tips to help you stay stress-free behind the wheel, even when it gets hot:
1. Choose the right clothes
When that first second of heat hits you from the car, you’ll want to be in light clothing. Before your air-con kicks in, the car can get very warm inside so make sure your outfit choice doesn’t give you any extra sweat.
Who doesn’t love a good pair of flip flops in the summer? It’s not technically illegal to drive in “inappropriate” footwear or barefoot but if you have an accident, your choice of shoes could lead to a careless driving charge. You need full ability to control the pedals so if it’s hot and you’re heading to the beach, bring another pair of shoes that you can change into for driving.
2. Don’t get drowsy
The warm weather is more likely to make you feel drowsy, so keep a bottle of water in your car to stay hydrated and keep yourself alert. Driving when tired can be dangerous.
Hay fever symptoms and medication can impair your driving ability so it’s crucial that you read the information leaflet of any remedy you take before you drive. If you’re very allergic, keep your windows closed to prevent pollen from flying inside your car.
You may want to go for medication that doesn’t cause drowsiness, and close windows and vents to prevent pollen from entering your car.
3. Prevent your car from overheating
The interior of your car can get very hot in the summer, especially if the seats are leather or plastic. Keep your car well ventilated and try to park in a shade to prevent both the interior and the engine from overheating.
4. Maintain your car
High temperatures exacerbate damage to the rubber on tyres so make sure you check the condition and pressure of your tyres regularly. Car engines are more prone to overheating in the summer so inspect your coolant level more often. Also, check your engine oil and windscreen washer fluid to improve visibility in sun glare.
5. Plan your journey
Summer is the high season for driving and the roads get busier. Plan your route in advance and don’t forget to take breaks, if you’re on a journey longer than two hours. Check traffic and weather conditions before you go so you’re prepared for what’s ahead and can adjust your route if necessary.
6. Reduce sun glare
Wearing sunglasses and using the sun visor in your car will help prevent sunlight from dazzling you on the road. If your eyes are very sensitive and a pair of sunglasses don’t help you, slow down or pull over. It can be just as dangerous to drive on extreme sun glare as it is on stormy weather.
7. Don’t drink and drive
The whole nation gets merry when the sun is out and people flock to beer gardens, barbecues and festivals. Unfortunately, the result is increased drink driving and fatal accidents. Before heading out to your fun summer events, plan how you’re going to get home.
Never drink and drive, or let a friend do so – check public transport or ask someone to give you a lift if you know you won’t say no to those Aperol Spritzes.
8. Never leave your pet in a hot car
You might think it’s OK to leave your dog in the car on a warm day, if you’ve parked in a shade or left the windows open – but, the RSPCA says that in 22 degree weather the inside of the car can reach 47 degrees within an hour.
Dogs don’t sweat like we do so this will not only be unbearable for your pet but it could be fatal. To look after your best friend and avoid heatstroke take your dog with you or leave it at home if it’s a quick trip.
9. Prepare for slippery roads
In very high temperatures, road surfaces can become soft affecting the condition of driving lanes. We also know that the UK heatwaves don’t last that long so prepare for rain. Make sure you know how to adapt your driving style in wet conditions.
10. Don’t forget other road users
The summer brings out cyclists and pedestrians, and if you’re in the countryside it brings out the animals too. Keep in mind that you don’t share the roads with cars only and look out for your blind spots.
Warm weather and congestion on the roads are likely to affect your mood – now add in football and other summer activities, there’s definitely more road rage out there. If you feel stressed while driving, take deep breaths and have a break if you need to.