Summer Driving Tips
Blackcircles.com have put together some advice on summer driving to give you, our customers, some hints and tips for making sure that you have a safe journey, whether it be your summer holiday journey or a day trip away.
Preparing your car
- Ensure your car is serviced regularly. If you're planning a long journey, it's a good idea to put your car in for a service a couple of weeks beforehand.
- Before you set off, make sure you have liquid in your screen wash reservoir; you should use a mixture of both screen wash and water.
- Check your windscreen wiper blades for cracks and splits.
- Keep your windscreen clean - a clean windscreen improves visibility and safety.
- Ensure that the vehicle lights are in working order and keep a spare set of bulbs in the car.
- Check the oil and water levels regularly. Top up before departing on a long journey.
- Check your tyres regularly. Make sure the tyres (including the spare) are free from damage and have at least the minimum legal tread depth (1.6mm around central 3⁄4 of tread). Consider changing your tyres if they are getting close to the legal limit. Remember, the government changes its tyres at 3mm - there's a reason for this! Make sure tyres are inflated according to manufacturers recommendations. Make sure pressures are increased according to your vehicle handbook if you are carrying extra load BUT do not overinflate. Both overinflated and underinflated tyres affect handling, fuel consumption and results in premature wear. Check tyre pressures when they are cold and don't forget the spare tyre.
- Check the engine cooling system to avoid overheating. The last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of a motorway with an overheated engine on a hot day. Ensure that your coolant level is topped up and check coolant hoses and drive belts before setting out on a long journey. If the engine does overheat do not remove the radiator or coolant tank cap until the engine has cooled down for an hour or so.
- Inspect the jack and wheel brace and ensure that you know how to use them. If locking wheel nuts are fitted, check that the locking key is stowed away in the car.
- Ensure the car is loaded correctly following manufacturer's guidelines with regards to roof racks or trailers.
- Check caravan and trailer tyres for signs of ageing. Ideally they should not be more than 5 years old and never more than 7 years. If in doubt ask your local tyre dealer.
For Overseas Trips
- Make sure you display a GB sticker on your car to avoid a potential on-the-spot fine.
- Fit headlamp converters, or, if vehicle has xenon headlamps, get them reset
- Carry a warning triangle. It is either compulsory or recommended across the EU.
- Check local requirements, and local rules of the road. For example, carrying a set of spare bulbs is compulsory in Spain and Italy, whilst carrying a fire extinguisher is compulsory in Belgium
Remember, preparing your vehicle for summer driving is only the half of it. Make sure you are properly prepared as well.
- Take plenty of breaks, especially if there are children are in the car. A break keeps the driver alert and helps promote blood circulation. It also lets the vehicle cool down.
- Check the traffic and weather conditions before you set off.
- Chill out and avoid potential road rage situations. It's not worth it.
- Setting out early to avoid traffic is potentially a good idea - but don't drive tired. The most dangerous time for falling asleep at the wheel is the early hours of the morning, so avoid driving at that time. Get a good night's sleep before you depart. Avoid heavy meals before driving and, of course, don't drink alcohol. If you do get tired - ALWAYS take a break.
- Make sure the kids have got something to do. Make sure they don't distract the driver. Of course, make sure they use a child restraint or seat belt.
- Make sure you're dressed suitably. Loose fitting sandals or bare feet will affect your ability to control the car, especially in an emergency situation.
Further advice is available in RoSPA's "Safer Journey Planner", available free here