With darker and shorter days, and all that ice and snow on the roads, you’d be forgiven for thinking that winter was the most hazardous driving season. But as it turns out, it isn’t the case.
When the weather it at its worst – over January and February – there are actually fewer road fatalities. Oddly, the colder the weather is, the safer it is on the roads – and over the summer months, when the temperatures are at their highest, there are many more fatalities.
With this in mind, and with summer (almost) round the corner, we thought we’d put together a list of things to help reduce your chances of being caught up in an accident; a list six things to think about when you’re out and about this summer.
1. Keep your speed down
In the colder months, when it’s wet and rainy, motorists are more cautious on the roads. They drive slower to compensate for the hazards, and they also make fewer journeys.
The opposite is true in the summer. When the roads are dry and the sun is out, people tend to speed, and they do so much more often because they make more journeys. This greatly increases the chance of a road fatality.
What’s more, most aren’t aware that they’re exceeding the speed limit. So keep a close watch on your speed, since even being a little above the limit can make a big difference.
2. Stay cool
If you’re driving home after a long day at the office, gripping a burning hot steering wheel as you perspire, immobile in a traffic jam, it’s easy to get a little irritated. But don’t let the heat get to you.
Stay hydrated and stay sane behind the wheel. If you know there’s a chance you could get caught up in traffic, keep a bottle of water in the fridge at work and take it with you when you leave. There’s nothing worse than being dehydrated in a hot car with nothing to drink but a warm bottle of water.
And don’t underestimate the power of air conditioning either. If you’ve got it, use it. You won’t get the best MPG on your journey, but at least you’ll be a cool, even tempered driver, and a more agreeable person generally.
3. and keep your car cool too…
[Image credit, Fir0002/flagstaffotos.com.aui ]
It’s not only you who has the potential to overheat on the homeward journey, hot weather conditions also take their toll on your car as well.
If your car does overheat, it’s an idea to turn off the air conditioning and open your windows. This will give the engine a chance to cool down.
If worse does come to worst, and you find yourself at the side of the road with your bonnet open waiting for the engine’s temperature to drop, don’t refill the radiator with straight away. Opening the radiator cap before the engine has had a chance to cool down could cause steam to spurt out, which could cause you a nasty injury.
4. Plan your route
Going away on holiday? So is everyone else.
June is by far the most popular month for loading up the car and setting off to that sunny holiday destination. It should be a time of high spirits and relaxation, but on the roads it’s anything but.
The roads will be busy with cars filled with near-bursting suitcases, screaming kids and hot tempered drivers. So be extra vigilant during this month. And if you happen to be one of these irritable drivers, make sure that you know where you’re going.
Don’t rely on road signs, map-reading passengers or irritating Sat Nav voices to tell you which way to go. Use them as guides only, and look your route up online or in the map book well before you set off.
Also remember that nicer weather conditions bring with them more road construction projects. Stay one step ahead. Check your Local Government website for details of current and planned road works, and make a note of them in your calendar so you know when to change your driving routes.
5. Take a break
Driving fatigue caused by long journeys in high temperatures can be particularly dangerous, so play it safe and take a break.
If you’re driving for a more than 2 hours, it’s a good idea to pull over safely and take a break for 20 minutes. And if you’re driving for a long stretch, take frequent breaks. They’re much better than long breaks at keeping you alert and focussed on the roads, and give you an nice opportunity to stretch your legs and stay hydrated.
6. Watch where you’re driving
Since the school children will be out enjoying their summer holidays, there are more children playing on the streets, and more people who will be out running, cycling and walking.
Summer cyclists are a real cause for concern, so make a point of checking your mirrors more often. If you’re driving behind one, always be sure of their intentions. If you’re not, then it’s best to hold back and wait.
If you’re driving round built up areas, or an area close to a park, keep your speed low. You never know when a stray football (and the child whose job it is to retrieve it) will come bouncing into the middle of your path.
Be extra cautious of children crossing between parked cars, and if you see an ice cream truck, rather than navigate the queue of children, it’s probably safer to get out of the car and enjoy an ice cream yourself – it’ll at least keep you cool…