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5 things to consider when driving in heat

Driving can become so habitual that we come to rely on our cars for getting us from A to B no matter what. But there are some seemingly everyday scenarios that should make us reconsider whether the journey is an essential one.

For example, we are all used to assessing the necessity of our journey in extreme weather when snow, heavy rain or strong winds are involved. But what about heat?

In fact, to the contrary, we are more likely to jump in the car when temperatures rise as we head out to make the most of the long-awaited sunshine. There are different considerations to make when driving in heat as it can have adverse effects on us and our passengers, can increase the risk of breakdown and can cause driving conditions to deteriorate.

Here are five things to consider before driving in heat:

1. Increased risk of breakdown

High temperatures can quickly worsen existing damage to tyres so it is important to check their condition and pressure before embarking. Your car will also be more prone to overheating during warmer temperatures so checking your coolant levels could be crucial to preventing an unexpected breakdown.

Something that is often overlooked all year around, but getting caught in an unexpected traffic jam can quickly diminish your fuel levels, especially with the air con on full blast. If possible, we recommend ensuring that you have double the required fuel for your journey in order to cover any unexpected delays.

2. Driving conditions

Extremely high temperatures can cause road surfaces to soften and become slippery so we must slow down in extreme heat to accommodate this. Equally, when rain follows a period of prolonged heat we must also be aware of increased levels of standing water.

Dazzling sunshine can become more frequent in summer so sunglasses are an essential accessory to keep in your car at all times. However, they are not always sufficient in improving visibility and you must always pull over safely if you become dazzled.

3. Hay fever

Hay fever is the most common form on non-infectious allergy, affecting between 10% and 30% of all adults and as many as 40% of children. If you fall within these statistics you will know the effects are more prevalent as pollen levels increase in the summer months. No matter how severe your symptoms are, when driving it is important to choose medication that does not cause drowsiness and to close all windows and vents to ensure pollen doesn’t enter your car.

4. Other road users

Hot weather doesn’t only encourage more of us to jump in our cars, but there will also be increased volumes of pedestrians and cyclists sharing our roads. Therefore we must remain extra vigilant to all road users and stay fully aware of our blind spots at all times. Furthermore, we must give cyclists plenty of space both prior to and during overtaking and must only do so when it is absolutely safe.

5. Our mood

Uncomfortably warm weather, notoriously slow holiday traffic, and congestion can all have a detrimental effect on our mood and therefore our driving capacity. It is important to take a break if we feel our mood deteriorating, refrain from driving aggressively and always ensure we remain calm when faced with aggravating behaviour on our roads.

Additional steps to take when driving in heat:

- Make your cabin temperature is as comfortable as possible: prevent overheating by parking in shade, keeping your car well ventilated and ensuring your air conditioning system is working properly.
- Ensure you have plenty of fluids on board no matter how long your journey is, particularly when traveling with pets or children.
- Washer fluid levels: heat can cause dust and dirt to stick to your windscreen which can quickly obstruct your view. As always, ensuring you have sufficient washer fluid for your journey is essential.
- Consider appropriate clothing and footwear
- Ensure pets and passengers are not left in the car, even if sleeping.

On the rare occasion that the sun does come out here in the UK it is all the more tempting to hit the road. However, we must always take extra care when driving in extreme weather conditions and heat is no exception.

Following our recent partnership with UK driving safety charity, Brake, we have launched the Drive Safer Series: a commitment to provide a monthly update on driving safety and best practice. Stay up to date with similar content by signing up to our newsletter.

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Posted on 5th August 2019 at 4:10 PM

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