Let’s face it – for all of the reputation that the UK has for greyness and drizzle, there’s nothing like the great British summer. Perhaps it’s so great precisely because we spend so much of the year waiting for it!
Unfortunately, though, this might also partly explain why Britons are seemingly so bad at preparing themselves to drive in hot weather. According to a survey by one car insurer a few years back, 4.4 million motorists were supposedly guilty of not taking any safety precautions when driving in warmer conditions.
So, let’s ensure you don’t become a statistic in the sunny weather, with these tips for driving in a heatwave.
Check your vehicle before setting off
It seems like common sense to say that extreme temperatures are bad for human beings. So, why do we not take this as a given for the vehicles we drive, too?
If, for instance, your car has been left untouched for a while amid the various lockdowns, it’s strongly recommended that you check the engine oil and water coolant levels.
And for that first petrol station visit after such a break, we’d suggest that you not only top up the fuel, but also pump up the tyres and grab some screen wash, in case you find yourself needing extra in these warmer conditions.
Have an emergency kit in the car
You can never be absolutely sure in any conditions whether your car might break down, but elevated temperatures can heighten the risk. And more to the point, if you do break down, you and any passengers might be stuck for a while before help arrives.
So, it’s a good idea to put together an ‘emergency kit’ that is always in your car for those trips out in the sun. Think in terms of the obligatory warning triangle and jump leads, but also a water bottle and even a reflective emergency blanket for providing shade.
And you will need to pack multiple drinks to help people hydrate if you have passengers, of course. If you’re travelling with kids, why not even have a cool box in the car – not the boot – containing icy treats and cold drinks, so that everyone can always feel refreshed?
Make sure you’re well-hydrated
We covered this one a little above, but it really is worth underlining. Past research has suggested that being dehydrated behind the wheel is as bad as drink-drinking in terms of the number of errors a driver is liable to make.
That should indicate to you how risky it can be to deliberately drive slightly dehydrated – as some drivers do – in order to minimise the number of toilet stops on longer journeys.
Dehydration while driving is associated with such effects as poorer focus, slower reaction times, and muscle cramps. So, in the same way we routinely “just say no” to mixing driving and alcohol, we should do the same for driving and dehydration, especially in hot weather.
Get ample sleep and take regular breaks
With the Sleep Foundation stating that people who fail to get seven hours of sleep a day are at greater risk of drowsiness leading to a driving accident, you should definitely make sure you enjoy plenty of shuteye before driving in a heatwave. That’s because warm weather can make you feel even drowsier than you would in less sweltering conditions.
If your vehicle lacks air conditioning, it’s also recommended that you stop for a break at least every 90 minutes, to give everyone the opportunity to stretch their legs and enjoy some fresh air.
Don’t leave children or pets in the car
Like the other tips in this list, this is advice you should be heeding in any weather conditions, but it’s of even more critical importance when it’s extremely hot outside.
Even if it’s just a “short trip to the supermarket”, you should always take any children or pets with you, instead of leaving them in the vehicle. Temperatures within a car can rapidly rise on already-hot days, especially if the vehicle isn’t parked in the shade.
Speaking of keeping your children safe and comfortable for heatwave travel, it’s also strongly urged that you have them dressed in loose-fitting clothing. It’s a good idea, too, to protect their eyes by using shades on your windows if your vehicle doesn’t have tinting.
There you have it – a rundown of tips that will help ensure you drive safely and responsibly amid the elevated temperatures we’ve seen lately. And if you don’t yet have a vehicle at all, why not turn to CarFinanceGenie for attractive no-deposit car finance options?