With Britain basking in the middle of a heatwave, we’ve done a bit of research that revealed that motorists are sitting ducks when it comes to driving in extremely hot weather. With 40.3 million licensed drivers on the road this summer, 4.4 million admit that they fail to take any safety precautions at all when driving in the hot weather, leaving them at risk of having an accident or a breakdown.
This summer, in what meteorologists predict could be the hottest summer since 1976, so we’re urging drivers to be more cautious on the road and check their cars first before they set off. More than two million drivers (5 percent) are likely to get in a tricky situation with the heat damaging their tyres, yet three fifths (62 percent) don’t bother to check if their tyres are in a good condition before setting off. Four fifths of drivers (84 percent) don’t check their car batteries in the summer despite running the risk of the water evaporating, leading the acid to corrode the plates of the car. Furthermore, seven in ten motorists (69 percent) will also forget to check their oil levels which is essential to keeping the car cool in the heat.
Our research also revealed half of drivers (49 percent) think they’re taking precautions by parking in the shade, forgetting the fact that the sun will move throughout the day!
Andy James, UK CEO at 1ST CENTRAL commented, “Many drivers are aware that they should take extra precautions in the winter but fail to do the same in extreme heat. To ensure a safe drive it is essential they inspect their cars before setting off on the road. By using our tips, motorists can reduce the risk of breaking down or having an accident, and simply get on with what matters.”
Do you feel like you’re unprepared too? Why not take a look at our top tips for driving in a heatwave…
With soaring temperatures, the air inside your tyres will expand and affect the pressure which could lead to a blowout. The heat can cause the rubber of a tyre to disintegrate too, so be sure to check the condition of your tyres – damage, wearing and pressure – especially before heading out on a long road trip.
As the temperature begins to soar, so does the temperature of the fluids inside your engine. Oil and coolant are essential for cooling down your engine and keeping it running when it’s being pushed to the extreme. Check your levels before embarking on a journey and top up when needed.
Car batteries are made of acid and water and the water will evaporate faster than the acid in hot temperatures, leaving lead plates bare. Where possible, park your car in the shade to prevent levels from depleting.
Warm weather brings bugs out in force and you can guarantee your windscreen will be covered in them. Make sure your wipers don’t need renewing and your washer fluid is topped up, so you can wipe off any pesky bug remnants.
A pair of sunnies are a key part of any summer driving kit, as they’ll reduce glare and make it easier to see hazards, signs and lights. If you do opt for a fashionable pair, don’t go for blue lenses as they can make amber and green lights look almost interchangeable, causing a problem at traffic lights.
If you have any chips or cracks in your windscreen, the intense heat and direct sunlight can make these worse. Although it is rare that we experience sub-Saharan temperatures in the UK, when we do, the heat causes the glass to expand and contract, fracturing the windscreen or distorting the shape of the glass. To avoid this from happening, just like how you would protect your car battery, park your car in the shade.
It’s always a good idea to pack drinks in the main body of your car and not in the boot. This will keep you refreshed and make sure you’re not too hot and drained to be concentrating on the roads. If driving with kids you should be especially careful when out in hot weather, particularly if your car doesn’t have air conditioning. Bring a cool box with some icy treats and cold drinks, and make sure the kids are wearing loose clothing to stop them overheating.
Not only does having plenty of drinks on hand keep you refreshed but it also stops you from becoming dehydrated, which has recently been revealed to be just as dangerous as drink driving.
As with any long car journey you should always remember to travel with a well-stocked emergency kit, especially in extreme weather conditions. Many minor car issues can be fixed with the tools within these, saving you from having to call out for breakdown assistance.
There’s nothing worse than stepping into a sweltering car or burning your hands at the wheel. Why not purchase a reflective sunshade for the windshield which will help prevent the car from getting too hot. Sunshades can also be purchased for passenger seats to protect children from the glare on long journeys.
Even on short trips and pit stops remember to take children and pets with you instead of leaving them in the car. Although this is something you shouldn’t do, regardless of the weather condition, it’s particularly dangerous to leave children and pets in cars in extreme heat as temperatures can treble, especially if your car’s not in the shade.