Safe Driving in British Summer

  • Author: OPONEO.CO.UK

It’s strange to think that even here in the UK, a country known for great scenery, twisty roads and rain, that summer time can be a dangerous time for motoring, especially if you’re driving with kids and pets.

In today’s air-conditioned world, it’s rare that in-car temperatures get higher than 20°C while driving, or at least while the engine is running, but even on a day where outside temperatures are just 21°C, the inside temperature could reach 40°C after just half-an-hour. Outside temperatures of between 26 – 37°C could easily see cabin temperatures spike at 54 – 77°C (a joint of beef at 77° would be considered ‘well done’).

a couple on vacation

Is your car summer-friendly?

Gone are the days that with a little mechanical knowledge and a basic tool kit you could fix your car on the roadside – a breakdown today is more than likely going to involve a recovery service, specialist diagnostics and perhaps even a trip to the main dealer.

Many of us get our car serviced when it needs it – usually when the service indicator light comes on, or when something is broken, but you should consider getting in to a routine of summer car maintenance – checking that all fluids are topped up, getting the air-con re-gassed (or at least serviced), and just ensuring that everything is working as it should be. There’s nothing worse than being stuck inside a broken-down car.

Perhaps the only thing worse than being stuck at the side of the road (where you can at least stretch your legs) is to be stuck in traffic – as the heat rises, so do tempers, but the inverse could be said of patience!

a couple in a car on vacation

Summer on wheels

As we’re talking about travelling by car, the likelihood is that you’re journeying far & wide because you’re taking a holiday. The drive to the holiday destination doesn’t have to be taxing, stressful or fraught with aggravation.

Instead of viewing the drive as something to get done, you could think of it as part of the holiday – adjust your driving style, slow down, enjoy the weather and scenery outside. You’ll arrive in virtually the same time as you would if you’d driven as though you were trying to qualify for the Monaco GP.

Besides, your car is already operating at around 110°C, you really don’t need to put it through that extra stress of being driven to within an inch of its life.

Planning a road trip?

If you’re planning to take a road trip anywhere during the summer, it’s worthwhile considering any extras that you may need, either in case of a breakdown, or just because of the heat. Mild dehydration can occur when the body has lost just 5-6% of its fluid - severe dehydration can cause death.

Packing some extra water is a must – not only can you drink it, but if your car overheats, you can also use it in the cooling system to try and continue your journey – or at the very least, get to safety.

If you’re travelling with pets or children, it may be worth taking the trip late at night/early morning to avoid the heat of the midday sun, plus it will have the added bonus of getting you there before your holiday has officially started, and hopefully avoiding the worst of the traffic – it’s a win-win situation.

little child in a car

British summer time

Admittedly, ‘British Summer’ could be the difference between warm or cold rain, but on the odd days that we get some proper sunshine, high-thirties on the thermometer aren’t unknown – the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was back in 2003 – 38.5°C in Faversham, Kent.

Even at temperatures of 25–30°C, that’s still much warmer than we’re used to, and as is quite often in the UK, the cloud can give the illusion that it’s not that warm and sunny, therefore we tend to ignore the heat. How many times have you seen people leaving their pets in cars on a warm day?

Even with the windows opened, there isn’t much relief from the heat, especially with a car with a glass roof – it’s like a greenhouse. You should never leave a pet or child in a locked car on a summer day – children have been known to die in cars in temperatures less than 20°C outside.

If you see a child or pet locked in a car on a hot summer day, you should call the police – not only will they take the responsibility for gaining entrance to the vehicle, but they’ll also look to prosecute the adult responsible. As much as it’s tempting, don’t break into the vehicle yourself if there is any risk of damage – maddeningly, the owner of the vehicle could have you charged for criminal damage.

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