UK Heatwave: 8 Driving Tips To Consider When Travelling This Summer

Summer is finally arriving in the UK, with temperatures increasing every day up to the weekend – with highs of 30C (86F) to be expected.

As expected, many will be taking advantage of the weather and travelling to be with friends and family for a fun-filled weekend, whether it be at the beach or the countryside.

However, it is important to make safety a priority when you’re driving this summer, which is why you should always prepare for long journeys ahead.

Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing shares eight useful tips for driving in hot temperatures, ensuring friends and family are travelling as safely as possible:


1. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated is important anyway, but when driving, it can prevent the driver from feeling dizzy and tired behind the wheel – something that can increase the risk of an accident.

The NHS recommends that we drink around 6-8 glasses (1.2 to 1.5 litres) a day to keep levels energised.

Therefore, ensure before and during your journey that you have water available and if you are feeling dehydrated, stop in a safe place and take time to rehydrate before you continue travelling.


2. Ventilate your car before setting off

To air the vehicle out, ventilate your car before turning on the AC. Slide down the windows of the car for 5-10 minutes before turning the ignition, as this helps to release the trapped heat.

Doing this will bring down your car’s temperature, which will help the AC to cool faster.


3. Wear suitable sunglasses

Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement, as they are very important for protecting your eyes while you drive.

Experts at the AA suggest you choose your sunglasses extremely carefully, as some can be too dark for driving. There are two essential requirements needed in lenses used for driving:

-Vision must remain clear

-Sufficient light to let you see properly must get to your eyes

It is also recommended you have an eye test every two years to check if you need prescription glasses, as driving without glasses when required is illegal and can invalidate your car insurance, as well as lead up to a £1000 fine.


4. Wear cool clothing

Whilst it may seem like an obvious one, travelling in thick clothing when it is too hot will make you feel uncomfortable and agitated behind the wheel.

Wearing light clothing with natural fibres will help you feel cooler for longer, particularly during long journeys.

Loose clothing will also help with comfort, as being comfortable is important during long journeys.

However, for those who have leather seats, be careful if you are wearing shorts not to burn your skin. Due to this, it may be worth sitting on a towel or blanket.


5. Avoid travelling at peak times

If you are travelling a long distance on a hot day, try to leave early in the morning or later in the evening.

Middle of the day, roads will tend to be a lot busier, meaning you will experience delays and, of course, will be travelling during the hottest part of the day.

It may be worth checking traffic updates in advance, as incidents can also prolong your journey. Therefore, you may decide to take an alternative route.


6. Have an emergency kit in the car

This is something that is always recommended to have in a vehicle, especially during extreme weather conditions.

Items in an emergency kit can include: a first aid kit (with a seabelt cutter), wet towels, wipes and ice packs, food and water supplies, a torch, tow rope, battery jump leads, blankets, a whistle, antifreeze/windshield washer fluid.

Also, it is important to bring a mobile phone and a charger. If your car doesn’t have a place to charge your phone, invest in a portable charger in case you get stuck in an emergency.


7. Ensure your screen wash is full

You don’t want to drive out onto the motorway before realising that your screen wash bottle is empty. Flies, dirt and bird faeces that cannot be cleaned off will make it harder to see.

Therefore, always make sure your screen wash bottle is full before you set off.

8. Park in the shade –

Protect your children and pets

Too much heat can cause a car engine and battery to suffer – and no one likes that feeling of stepping into a boiling hot vehicle.

Park in the shade whenever you can, as this will help protect your car from overheating.

Even better, invest in a sunshade for your window to help prevent your car from heating up when it’s hot.

Never leave children or animals in a hot car, even for short periods

It is against the law to leave a child in a car, regardless of the weather. During hot temperatures, a closed, stationary vehicle is like a greenhouse, trapping heat inside.

Therefore, leaving a child in for a couple of minutes can cause risk of life-threatening heatstroke.

This also applies to animals, and dogs and cats overheat faster than humans because of their fur and size.

Leaving an animal in a hot car for longer than fifteen minutes can cause brain injuries and potential organ damage, so it is not worth the risk.