With heat waves wrecking havoc across Europe, driving in summer in familiar roads or not present diverse hazards. High temperatures are highly uncomfortable and stress is bound to keep up. Personal, road and professional demands can make typical driving in your car a challenge fraught with dangers. Here’s some advice to help you avoid some of them and arrive safely.
Are you prepared In case keys get lost?
Summer dips in the pool, rushing to your favourite pub for a quick bubbly before you hit the pedal home or just enjoying the sand along the coastline are all wonderful at this time. But in the process your keys could get lost. Always have a spare key if you can, keep them dry and most important of all, learn how to open your car doors and start the engine even without your car keys.
It’s possible that your car handbook has all this information and you’ve been just lazy. Read through and prepare yourself just in case the worst happens. Also, find a local specialised locksmith and memorize their number or save it somewhere. You just might need them when you least expect it.
Tired and inebriated driving
There’s no wisdom in driving while tired in hot weather and increasing temperatures. If you must drive, do take a few cups of real, dark and strong coffee or get yourself some power nap, perhaps for 15-20 minutes.
If you must drive for hours avoid consecutive driving for over 3 hours. Take breaks for a few minutes in-between. If you’re on a long road trip include as many breaks as you can. Rather than a long, single stop, short ones of 15-20 minutes are heavily recommended.
If you must drive avoid heavy meals and alcohol before you leave. Be careful where you park to take a nap while on the road. Overstaying in some places could get you a ticket or contravene some parking guidelines.
Mind the tyres
Most drivers ignore proper tyre pressure or drive in damaged tyres gambling with their lives. Summer months, particularly in recent times are insanely hot with the highest temperatures on record. Punctures are almost assured both for well-maintained tyres and much so for damaged ones. Take steps to check them as consistently as you can. Pressure and tyre condition checks will help you maintain the proper load by increasing pressure if you need to according to the car handbook. If the tyres look like they’re worn out or seen better days don’t just ignore them. Replace as fast as you can.
Don’t forget the windscreen too
Sun glare has always unhinged drivers on roads causing numerous accidents. Keep yourself safe by ensuring your windscreen wipers are working as they should and worn outs replaced. The windscreen should always be clean. Invest in quality sunglasses and keep them in the vehicle whether in winter or summer. It helps to keep your gaze on the road unaffected at all times. Do avoid those lenses that darken in bright sun glare.
Hay fever and drivers with allergies
Those with allergies, including hay fever-prone drivers need to be extra careful in summer. If you cannot find another person to take the wheel ensure you’ve taken your medication. Make sure the drugs don’t cause any judgement-impairing side-effect such as drowsiness. Pollen grains, hairs and other things you might be allergic to need to be avoided at all cost. Keep the car air vents and windows shut. Always have some tissues and handkerchief close by and invest in sunglasses that actually block bright daylight without impairing your visual sharpness.
Watch the cooling system
If you didn’t know driving in high temperatures and hot climates has been found to damage the cooling system of a car. At times it happens without the driver and passengers none the wiser. Always keep an eye on it regularly, including the coolant to evade the hazards of overheating.
Mind tractors and open roof cars
If driving across the nation and long distance chances are you’ll meet lots of open roof vehicles in top gear and tractors going about their business. Note that tractor drivers use ear protectors or soundproofed cabs and can’t clearly hear vehicles approaching them; same case with open hood cars in high speed. Keep sufficient distance behind such a vehicle while remembering not to just overtake tractors. Some could actually be longer than they appear. Ensure you’ve sufficient space to overtake before you attempt it.
During summer months, loose stones, debris and dirt are a common sight for tar-repaired roads. These have the propensity of damaging a car’s paintwork, grazing the windscreen or scuffing headlamps, particularly among careless drivers. Driving fast and ignoring speed limits and driving very close to the vehicle ahead have been cited as major contributors to damage caused by loose dirt and chippings.
Mind simple fire starters
High temperatures, hot sun and warm days mean grass, debris, vegetation and other items thrown about are very dry. A simple careless act as throwing a smouldering cigarette could ignite papers or grass starting a major fire around.
Summer days are the days of our lives and everyone is probably out there. Keep safe on the road and take all precaution to avoid accidents when driving in open spaces where people love to overspeed and overtake, especially in rainy days. Most importantly, don’t kick off a long drive before you know where to access a local garage just in case the worst happens along the way.