Last Friday, temperatures in the UK reached over 36°C, making it the hottest day in August since 20031. As this heatwaves continues across the UK, it’s important for drivers to be mindful of the different conditions the hot weather can bring, and the best ways to avoid getting caught out – both in terms of themselves and their vehicles.
Below are some of our top tips for driving in the hot weather.
- Keep your windscreen clean. A dirty windscreen will magnify any glare form the sun and could cause a real issue with visibility when driving. Make sure to keep your windscreen free of grime inside and out to help avoid this.
- Take it slow. If you are dazzled by the sun, slow down and leave extra space between yourself and the driver ahead. This will give you more time to regain full control and assess the situation.
- Protect your eyes. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses and remember to take a rest. Your eyes will strain quickly if you are squinting and it will hinder your concentration.
- Protect your skin. Research has shown that drivers are still susceptible to UV damage when driving, which is especially true for business drivers who may spend much of their working day behind the wheel. Options to avoid this include wearing sun cream or investing in a UV-blocking film for your windows.
- Be mindful of others. Remember that when the sun is low behind you, you might be able to see just fine, but oncoming drivers might not see you.
- Keep the interior cool. Using a sunshade or a spare tea towel/cloth to block out the sun and help to keep areas like your dashboard and steering wheel cool. Watch out for exposed metal parts like those on your seat belts as these can also get extremely hot.
- Check your vehicle. This should include, tyre pressures, tread depth and condition, and checking fluids. Top up your screen wash and oil (if needed) and make sure your engine coolant is at the correct level.
- Stay hydrated. Keep bottles of water in your car in case of any emergencies. We recommend having plenty of water as it is essential to stay hydrated to maintain concentration. Try freezing some bottles to have chilled water throughout the day especially on longer journeys.
- Take frequent breaks. Driving in the heat can cause fatigue and lapses in concentration. IAM RoadSmart recommends taking a break every two hours, but you may find yourself needing more during the hot weather.
- Create an emergency kit. Drinks, snacks, a charger for your mobile phone, and a roadmap for any last-minute detours can be useful.
- Be mindful of heat exhaustion. Increased thirst, fainting, muscle cramps and headaches, feeling sick/nauseous and increased sweating are all signs of heat exhaustion. If you or a passenger display any of these symptoms pull over when safe and try to find a cool place indoors to rest, making sure to sip fluids to stay hydrated.
Richard, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, said: ”Preparation is key to an enjoyable trip. A well-maintained car and a fully fit and prepared body can make the difference between a pleasant drive in the country and a nightmare journey to be endured. Whilst the trip may be about the destination, it is much better if the journey is enjoyable too.”