You’re probably aware of the added risks of driving in winter, but summer driving carries its own dangers. Read our top 10 tips on making long journeys in the summer months.
Fatigue is a factor in up to a quarter of fatal and serious road accidents (RoSPA 2016), and with warm weather tiredness at the wheel can be more likely. If you’re setting off on a long drive, plan regular rest stops. If you feel sleepy while driving, pull over in a safe place to rest and drink a cup of coffee or high-caffeine drink.
There are a few safety checks you should undertake before taking your car on a long drive, including checking coolant and oil levels. Don’t forget to check the tread on your tyres and make sure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, as dangerous tyre blowouts are more common in hot weather. And top up the windscreen washer fluid so you clean those bugs off the windscreen.
Sharing the driving on longer trips can help to avoid tiredness and cut down on the need for rest stops — but you need to make sure all drivers are covered to do so. Read our guide on multicar insurance to find out more.
Roads are likely to be busier than usual. When the sun’s shining, routes to popular seaside resorts can be particularly packed. And don’t forget roadworks are more commonly planned in summer to take advantage of the dry weather. Check traffic forecasts online before setting off, or tune your radio to keep up to date with traffic updates on the move.
With balmy evenings and pub gardens calling in the summer, it may be tempting to have a drink or two. It’s impossible to say how much you can drink before exceeding the legal drink driving limit, as alcohol affects everybody differently. However, research from THINK! found that a second drink before driving could double your chance of being in a fatal collision. It’s safest to avoid alcohol altogether if you’re getting behind the wheel.
It may be tempting to drive in flip flops or sandals in warmer weather, but it could prove to be dangerous. According to our own research, 13% of drivers have stalled their car because their shoes made it difficult to drive. And while driving in flip flops isn't illegal, if your footwear is a factor in an accident, it could seriously complicate any claim you make and could leave you liable.
We recommend you wear a pair of comfortable shoes when you know you’re going to be driving, or keep a spare pair in your car that you can change into before setting off.
Most us us welcome sunny days during the summer, but it can cause dangerous glare for drivers. To minimise the distracting effects, keep a pair of sunglasses in your car and keep your windscreen clean as sunlight on dusty glass can reduce visibility.
And, much like flip flops, if you end up in an accident because you've forgotten to bring sunglasses you could end up in a fair bit of trouble and a "driving without due care and attention" charge.
Cars aren’t immune to breakdowns in the summer, with punctures and overheating being particular risks as the weather gets warmer. Make sure you’ve got the best breakdown cover to avoid getting stranded at the side of the road.
Cyclists and motorcyclists are more likely to be on the roads in the summer as they take advantage of the weather. Be sure to give cyclists plenty of room, check your mirrors carefully when turning, and take extra care to look for motorcyclists at junctions.
A heatwave traffic jam can be dangerous if you dehydrate. And if you breakdown, summer wait times for recovery vehicles can also be longer than usual. Make sure you have plenty of drinking water and perhaps some energy bars in case you are stuck, not moving, for a while.