Clear dry roads and lighter evenings lend themselves to driving. But while snow and ice are a distant memory, summer comes with its own challenges. Here are a handful to bear in mind.
Summer Drink Driving
We all know the risks of drink driving at Christmas, but drink-drive casualties are actually higher in the summer.
- Watch the home measures at picnics and barbeques. Drinks are usually larger and stronger than those served in a pub
- Beware the swift half after work – the chances are it’ll turn into more than that
- Ignore peer pressure. Just say no – it’s your licence at stake
- Going out with the best intentions and planning to have just a drink or two puts more pressure on you to risk driving home
- You are likely to be breathalysed if you are in a crash, even if it is not your fault. Whether or not you think you’re fit to drive, don’t risk it
- A drinking session the night before could put you over the legal limit the morning after
- Many accidents involve drunk pedestrians. Watch out for them when you’re driving.
Country roads are more fun to drive than long straight ones, but they are responsible for the majority of fatal and serious accidents.
Ask yourself, can you stop in the distance you can see to be clear? And have you anticipated the approaching vehicle or junction hidden around the bend?
- Don’t approach a bend on the wrong side of the road.
- If you see horses, pass wide and slow, and if this means hanging well back until you can overtake, do it
- If a deer runs across in front of you, more may well follow
- Where there are farm vehicles, there is likely to be slippery mud spread on the road
- Be extra careful when passing field entrances – you don’t know what is waiting to emerge
- The national speed limit, 60 mph, is a maximum, not a target.
When it’s been dry for a while, standing water takes longer to disappear. In cases of severe flooding, you should reconsider making the journey at all, but if unavoidable:
- Drive on the highest section of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is approaching you
- Leave space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians
- Drive slowly, but make sure you have a clear run so you can keep going once you have started
- In a manual car, keep the revs high by keeping the clutch partly engaged all the time you are in the water
- In deep water never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe
- Once you’re out of the water, dry the brakes by lightly applying them as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely.
- Overgrown verges, bushes and trees will block your view. Always drive to be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear
- Vegetation can also obscure road signs. Slow down if you are looking for a sign
- Overgrowing trees create dark shadowed areas which are difficult to see into. Slow down until you can see the road is clear
- Falling leaves make a slippery mess on the roads when it begins to rain, and can obscure potholes
- You can get a good idea of wind direction and speed by seeing how it affects the trees.
Travelling with Children
Kids can be distracting, especially if they get bored. Keep them occupied, and your attention on the road.
- Don’t turn round to deal with fighting kids. Find somewhere to stop first.
- Keep them occupied by inventing games that promote and reward quiet behaviour
- Portable games consoles or in-car DVD players will keep kids occupied for hours. Just add headphones
- On a long journey, pack plenty of food and drink
- Allow extra stops, and find somewhere for them to let off steam
- Have a plastic bag (without any holes) at hand for travel sickness
- A second adult to look after the children makes a massive difference.
Don’t carry out repairs unless the car is parked well away from moving traffic and never attempt a repair on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
- Plan ahead: keep a reflective jacket, warm waterproof clothes and a torch in your car. Store the phone number of your breakdown company and your membership number
- At the first sign of trouble, switch on the hazard lights, slow down and stop the car in a safe place, off of the main carriageway. If this is not possible, stop as far to the left as you can so that approaching traffic can see you clearly
- On a motorway, try to coast to an emergency telephone. If you use your mobile, give the number on the nearest marker post which are located every 100 metres
- If you have a high-vis jacket, put it on and get passengers out of the vehicle on the opposite side to the traffic. If there is a safety barrier, wait behind it
- Except on a motorway, if you have an emergency triangle place it about 50 paces behind your vehicle.