10 July 2015

Summer driving tips

With UK temperatures having exceeded 30 degrees in some places lately, summer 2015 may well shape up to be a memorable one. Just because the sun has got his hat on making everyone feel peachier about life for a while, driving during summer months comes with its own challenges, so here’s how to stay cool – in some cases, literally.

Beware dopey drivers

As soon as the sun comes out in the UK, some people’s brains seem to melt, as they suddenly become less aware behind the wheel. Driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as driving too fast, and it’s not uncommon to see people posing in their Ray-Bans (other makes are available) at traffic lights, failing to realise they’ve turned green. Getting honked at from behind isn’t so cool, and neither is crashing into the car in front because you’re distracted by a fine-looking guy or girl in a car nearby – so whether you’re a poser or just love watching other people pose, stay tuned to what’s going on around you. Watch out for cyclists, too.

A tyresome time

Summer temperatures mean poor old tyres are left feeling the heat, particularly on long journeys. Roadside breakdowns from tyre blow-outs typically increase at this time of year. Lorries are also vulnerable, so keep your eyes peeled for tyres going pop or rolling off of vehicles in front. When it comes to your own tyres, ensure they are correctly inflated. Check your car’s manual for further details and if you haven’t got 20p spare, the tyre machines at Sainsbury’s are usually free.

Slow down to avoid chips

Stone chips, that is. Councils often make use of warmer weather and longer days to get some of their roads resurfaced. Always slow down whenever you see signs regarding resurfacing, as there’s a strong chance loose gravel chippings will be spread on the road, which can cause cracked windscreens, damaged headlights and chipped paintwork. Loose surfaces are more dangerous to drive on, so by driving more slowly, you can reduce the risk of skidding.

Go easy on farmers

Nobody likes being held up, but in the spring and summer, farmers more frequently take to the road in their tractors. Yes, tractors are slow, really slow – even ones made by Lamborghini. Farmers often can’t hear much when they’re sat in very noisy tractor cabs and they usually only drive from one part of their land to another, so try and be patient and don’t make any silly overtaking moves. It may only save you a few minutes and hey, they may be on their way to tend to a crop of carrots!

Staying cool

This is important for both you and your car. Check the car’s coolant level before you make a long journey and top it up if necessary, referring to the handbook or asking a friend or parent if you’re not sure. You don’t want to overheat, either, so try and remember to take a bottle of water with you. You may be glad you did. Air conditioning is great but it can lower your fuel economy, so use it in bursts, turning it off once you feel cool enough. Around town, open the windows instead.

Dress sense

It may be scorchio when you set off on a long journey, but this is the UK and weather can be unpredictable. It may feel nice to drive in flip flops with some air around your toes, but please be honest and if it’s not that comfortable, take some other footwear with you. In the same way, it may be hot enough to drive in your bikini, but you’ll regret it if you break down and have to stand up the motorway embankment for an hour, waiting for your breakdown provider to show up.

Parched pooches

If you take your dog with you on a long journey, take a bottle of water and a bowl, so you can give him or her a drink every so often, and ensure the car is ventilated, either with the air con on or a window open, so your pet can breathe. When leaving animals in parked cars, leave the windows down a centimetre or so, otherwise they may become poorly or even die.


The The Cool Coat™ from Prestige Pets

Look after yourself

Hay fever can be awful, leaving eyes and noses streaming. If you suffer from it, take a tablet before driving but read the label beforehand to make sure it won’t make you drowsy. When you know you’re going to sneeze, slow down and heighten your general sense of awareness, as a sneeze can lose a driver’s vision for the equivalent of 100m. Wear sunglasses to reduce glare and improve visibility, and take regular breaks to avoid become lulled into a sleepy state by the lovely weather. Don’t gorge on a heavy meal just before a long journey in the summer, as this will also make your sleepier, and if you smoke, remember not to throw butts out of the window as they may cause a fire.

We hope you found these summer driving tips useful, helping you feel more comfortable and safe on the road when the sun’s shining. If you have any summer driving stories or advice to share, get in touch on Twitter or Facebook

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.