Tips for driving safely during the UK summer heatwaves

Man driving car at sunset with glare on windscreen

By Bobatoo
July 22, 2022

This month in the UK, we have seen some of the hottest temperatures on record during the heatwave with red extreme heat national severe weather warnings being issued daily.

Higher temperatures can mean our stress levels are heightened due to dehydration, more people travelling and reduced concentration but we should always be prepared when driving throughout the summer.

In this guide, we’ve included some of our top tips to stay cool, calm and safe when behind the wheel.

Stay hydrated

With some areas of the UK hitting over 40 degrees last week, it is very important to make sure you stay hydrated on long drives or if you’re stuck in those inevitable summer holiday traffic jams.

We recommend that you always keep enough bottles of fresh cold water in your car for yourself and any passengers. You could even store them in a cool box to make sure they stay colder for those longer journeys.

Check & top up your vehicles fluid levels

We’ve all been guilty of not checking the fluid levels on our vehicles until either a warning light appears on the dashboard or it's too late! The last thing any of us want is to be stranded on the side of the road on a boiling hot day instead of basking in the sun on the beach.

Car and van engines get extremely hot in warm weather (especially older models), so it's really important that you ensure that your coolant and oil levels are topped up before travelling.

Check your tyres

If your tyres have any damage, punctures or incorrect pressure, they are statistically more likely to have a blowout. This is due to high temperatures causing aggravation to the tyre and in turn increasing the likelihood.

Before driving anywhere in the heat, it's extremely important that you give your tyres a once-over and make sure that your tyre pressures are at the recommended level. You can usually find this information in your vehicle handbook, printed on the sill of the driver's door or on the fuel cap flap.

Remember to check for more fair weather road users

With fuel prices rising as well as the heat, we’ve seen more cyclists, motorcyclists, walkers and horse riders using the roads. It’s imperative that you take extra care and allow for plenty of room when driving near any of these, especially when overtaking or driving down country lanes. 

Stay on top of those summer allergies

During the summer and warmer months of the year, we see pollen counts spike all over the UK so it's important that you stay on top of your hayfever medication. You should always check that any medication you are taking doesn't cause drowsiness or impairs your ability to drive.

If your hayfever is really bad, we would recommend asking someone else to drive as your vision can be impaired due to watery eyes, swelling and not to forget the constant sneezing that makes you shut your eyes temporarily (which no one wants when travelling down the motorway at 70mph!).

Make use of your air con

If you've got air con (A/C) in your car, try and make use of it on those extra hot days to cool everyone down quickly. Especially on those long car journeys when it can get warm and stuffy. Most vehicles now have it installed as standard and many also come with an 'eco' mode so that its not too heavy on your fuel consumption.

If you haven't got air con, another idea would be to take a handheld fan with you on your travels so you can use it at any time, not just in the car. 

Don’t lose your cool if you lose your keys

It's easy to lose your car or van keys at the best of times. With more trips to the beach and days out with the kids or family in the hot weather months, it’s not uncommon to lose your keys in the sand, lock them in the boot or even ruin your key fob by getting it wet.

If you can, keep them safe from the elements in a waterproof pouch but failing that and should the worst happen, rest assured that you can call a local auto locksmith using the likes of Key Assist on 03301 072349 to get you back on the road.

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Take regular breaks

If you're planning on driving over long periods of time to get to your summer destination, don't forget to take regular breaks to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. In hot weather, long hours spent on the road can cause tiredness which really impacts your concentration and is one of the biggest causes of road accidents.

We recommend stopping at regular intervals at service stations or cafes and restaurants where possible. It also gives you the opportunity to top yourself up on fluids like water or caffeine based drinks to make sure you are set for the rest of your journey.

Check your car is correctly insured and taxed before you leave

Finally, don't forget to make sure that your car has insurance and is taxed before travelling anywhere.

You can use services such as askMID or the Gov website lookup service to make sure both are valid and in place.

If you need to change your car insurance for your summer trips to include additional drivers or you are looking to temporarily insure yourself on another vehicle, get a fresh quote with Bobatoo and see how much you could save. Just tap the button below to get started:

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