Summer is a time to get out and about. Day trips, picnics, exploring attractions near and far – they’re all high on our list of to-dos, and generally mean we use our cars more and drive longer distances.
With Covid-19 restrictions still limiting overseas travel, more people are finding ways to enjoy their vacation at home – which in turn inevitably leads to increased traffic on the roads. Our advice will help you stay comfortable and safe on the roads this summer.
Before you go
- Plan your route. If you’re driving somewhere new, keep stress levels down by planning a basic route – especially if it’s a long way. Google maps, sat nav and the like make travel much easier, but if your phone battery dies or the signal drops, you could find yourself in unfamiliar territory with no idea where you’re going.
- Check your car. It’s wise to carry out regular basic checks but make it a habit before any long journey. Check tire pressures, including the spare. Ensure your jack and lug wrench are in good repair in case you get a flat. Make sure your engine oil and coolant levels are ok and top up your windscreen wash reservoir.
- Be prepared. If you do break down, it might be some time before help arrives. Pack bottles of water and snacks, along with some blankets and extra clothing – temperatures can drop suddenly, especially as it gets dark.
- Make sure your first aid kit is complete. It’s easy to forget to replace items, especially if your kit is only used infrequently (and we hope that’s the case). Make sure you’ve got bandages, sterile dressings, sticking plaster, antiseptic cream, insect bite/sting relief, scissors, eye wash and some paracetamol or ibuprofen. If you’ve got children, infant paracetamol is a good idea – you can buy single dose, easy-to-use sachets.
A comfortable journey
- Layer up (or down). It’s easy to get overheated when driving, even if you have air conditioning. Wear light clothing in several layers which you can add or remove as necessary.
- Choose footwear wisely. There’s been a lot of media debate about whether it’s legal – or wise – to drive in flip-flops or barefoot. The law will depend on where you live, but experts agree some (or no) footwear can interfere with a driver’s ability to operate the pedals, which may void your insurance in the event of an accident. Don’t take the risk – take summer footwear with you and change once you reach your destination.
- Don’t overheat. Summer temperatures mean the inside of your car soon heats up, especially if it has leather or plastic seats. Find a shady spot when parking to keep your engine and interior as cool as possible. You could consider investing in window shades, too.
Coping with hazards
- Slipping and sliding. Excessive temperatures can cause road surfaces to soften. A downpour after a hot, dry spell makes them slippery. And, of course, there’s always the chance of a sudden shower – especially in the UK. Each of these will affect road conditions, so be prepared to adapt your driving technique.
- Beware of loose chippings. Summer is a popular time for roadworks, but loose chippings can damage paintwork and wheels, crack windscreens and shatter headlamps. There are usually temporary speed limits in place, so make sure you stick to them and keep your distance from the vehicle ahead of you. If your wheel trims end up scratched or scuffed, we’ve got the solution – our high-tech patches are quick and simple to use and look great.
- Dazzled by the sun. While we love the sun, glare can cause real problems when you’re on the road. Keep a clean pair of sunglasses in your car – ones without light-reactive lenses are best and use your sun visor if you need to. Make sure your windscreen is clean and smear-free. If your eyes are especially sensitive, or you are struggling to see properly, slow down or pull over for a while.
- Feeling sleepy. Hot weather makes us more likely to feel drowsy while driving, especially if we’re on the motorway. Keep a bottle of water handy to help you stay hydrated and make sure your car is well ventilated. Take regular comfort breaks to walk around and stretch your muscles; several short breaks are better than one long one. Avoid alcohol or a heavy meal during your journey, and if you feel tired, find a safe place to stop as soon as you can.