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Driving Safety Tips for Warm, Sunny Days

Warm, sunny days might seem perfect for driving, but they can present unique hazards. Here are some essential tips to stay safe on the road:

Weather Hazards:
While snow, sleet, rain, fog, and high winds are common concerns, bright sunny days can also pose risks. With increased traffic in summer, more people are on the roads, often traveling longer distances.

Summer Car Checks:

  • Engine Oil, Coolant, and Windscreen Wash: Ensure all these fluids are at the correct levels before any journey, particularly long trips.
  • Tyre Tread and Pressure: Check the tread depth of your tyres, ensuring they meet the legal minimum of 1.6mm. You can use a 20p coin to check: if the coin’s outer band is covered, the tread is sufficient. Inspect for any splits or damage and ensure proper inflation. Your vehicle’s manual or an online tyre pressure guide can provide the correct pressure levels. Don’t forget to check the tyres on any towed caravan.
  • Fuel and Charge Levels: Running out of fuel is a common cause of breakdowns, so always ensure you have enough for your trip. For electric vehicles, plan charging stops along your route.

Driving Tips:

  • Glare: Direct sunlight can make visibility challenging. Use your sun visor effectively and keep a pair of sunglasses in the car to help reduce glare.
  • Tiredness: Driving while tired is dangerous. About 1 in 5 accidents on motorways are due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Ensure you are well-rested before starting your journey. Take regular breaks—at least 15 minutes every two hours—and avoid driving between midnight and 6 am when alertness is low. If you feel sleepy, find a safe place to stop and take a short nap of at least 15 minutes. Never stop on the hard shoulder except in an emergency.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially on hot days. Keep plenty of water in your car, particularly during long trips or when stuck in traffic.
  • Dashboard Safety: Avoid leaving items like food, drinks, or electronics on your dashboard or seats. Sunlight can quickly heat these areas, causing objects to melt or even explode.
  • Children and Pets: Never leave children or pets in a hot car. Temperatures can rise to dangerous levels quickly, and winding down a window is not enough to keep them safe. According to Dogs Trust, a dog can die in just 20 minutes if left in a hot car.
  • Security: Lock your belongings in the glovebox or boot when traveling. Ensure windows and doors are securely locked, and avoid leaving items unattended or in view.

Potential Hazards:

  • Increased Traffic: Roads are often busier during sunny spells and school holidays, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Road Surface Conditions: Heat can affect road surfaces, potentially causing tarmac to become sticky or creating potholes. Drive cautiously and be prepared for sudden changes in road conditions.

Long-Distance Travel Tips:

  • Plan Your Route: Use navigation tools to plan your journey and check for traffic updates. Avoid peak travel times if possible.
  • Comfort Breaks: Schedule regular stops to stretch your legs, use restrooms, and refresh. This helps maintain concentration and reduces fatigue.
  • Emergency Kit: Carry an emergency kit with essentials such as a first aid kit, torch, blanket, and basic tools. This can be invaluable if you encounter problems on the road.

By taking these precautions and staying aware of potential hazards, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable journey during the warmer months. Proper vehicle maintenance, staying hydrated, and taking regular breaks are key to preventing accidents and breakdowns. Always prioritize safety, both for yourself and other road users.