Summer Driving Advice
posted on 23 July 2008
The Great British Getaway is about to begin and as families take to the road for the summer break checking the condition of tyres has never been more important.
Tyre Advice has produced this summer driving guide to make sure you and your passengers stay safe on the roads home and abroad this summer.
- Vehicle preparation
- Plan ahead
- Summer driving hazards
There is nothing worse than breaking down on a day trip or holiday.
This added summer stress can easily be eliminated with a little forward planning. Before your journey gets underway, it is beneficial to make sure your car is in good working order. Basics such as water levels, oil levels and headlights all need to be checked. It’s always a good idea to take your vehicle for a full service to ensure any vehicle problems can be detected early.
When it comes to tyres, hot roads and under inflation can cause weak spots to puncture so it is important to check tyres before you start your journey. Tyre Safe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation has compiled three easy to remember steps to checking tyres – ACT.
Condition of tyres and wheels:
- Check the manufactures’ manual to establish the correct air pressure for your vehicle.
- For anyone travelling long distances with a full car and heavy luggage it is vital to find out the pressure level for a fully loaded vehicle.
- With rising petrol costs its good to remember that maintaining the correct tyre pressure helps to maintain optimum fuel efficiency. So check tyre pressure before the return journey also.
- Tyre pressure can only be checked when tyres are cold and have not been in use for a few hours.
- According to government legislation, car tyres must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across at least 75% of the tread width and over the whole circumference of each tyre.
- Tyre Safe recommends replacing tyres when the tread depth is around 3mm due to loss in tyre performance at depths below this.
- Tread depth has a massive effect on braking, handling and the ability of tyres to evacuate water and prevent aquaplaning.
- A tread depth gauge is a simple and inexpensive way of checking tread depth. Alternatively, you can use a 20 pence piece.
Condition of tyres and wheels:
- Clean dirt from the valves and make sure valve caps are fitted to each wheel
- Remove any foreign objects (for example stones) from tyre treads
- Check for bulges cuts and nicks in the tyre sidewall – if you find any its best to get these tyres replaced.
- Check for excessive or uneven wear on the front tyres – this could be a sign of steering misalignment which needs to be corrected before your journey
- Don’t forget to check the spare tyre, it’s often the forgotten tyre until you actually need it.
- Are there any unusual vibrations or a wobble through the steering? This could be a sign of unbalanced wheels. Get it checked out before your journey.
Don’t forget to carry out the same checks on your caravan.
Planning ahead is an important feature of any holiday. Not only can traffic black spots on major roads and motorways cause long delays, but break downs, foreign road laws and children’s entertainment are also necessary considerations.
- Listen to local and national radio information to warn of delays and road closures.
- Take cold drinks and snacks with you in case of long delays.
- Keep relevant breakdown numbers stored in your car and on your mobile phone. Your mobile phone should be kept well charged.
- If you suffer from hay fever, take non-drowsy medication before you start your journey and wear sunglasses. To prevent pollen getting into the car, close all air vents and vacuum the carpet and mats.
- Don’t overload your vehicle with luggage beyond your carrying capacity. Refer to the user manual for the maximum load your vehicle can safely carry.
- Keep a first aid kit, torch, spare tyre, road map, and a hazard warning sign in the car in case of breakdown or slow moving traffic in warm conditions.
- Pack puzzles and travel games to keep small children entertained on long car journeys.
- If you’re driving aboard, ensure you are covered by your insurance and are aware of the local legal framework.
Summer driving hazards
With the unpredictable nature of the British weather it’s easy to forget that the summer months bring a whole new set of driving hazards to be aware of
- Tractors – Farm vehicles are not required to have brake and indicator lights unless driving at night so be prepared for them to turn without notice. Increase the distance between your vehicle and the tractor and ensure you have plenty of room if you are going to overtake.
- Summer Sun – glare from the sun can reduce visibility. Keep a pair of sunglasses in the car and clean window screens regularly.
- Breakdowns – stay with the car. On the motorway use the road side emergency phone on the hard shoulder so you can be easily located. If you do use your mobile, note the number on the marker posts.
- Sand and Water – Keep car keys and fobs in a dry safe place away from sand and water as these can affect their ability to open and lock your car
- Hay fever – If you suffer from hay fever, slow down if you’re about to sneeze.
- Fully loaded vehicles – your car will be heavier when fully loaded which will increase your braking distance especially in an emergency stop so ensure you leave a larger gap between you an the car in front at all times.
For more information on safe summer driving, the Highways Agency has a very useful leaflet that can be downloaded from their website. The Tyre Safe website also has information on tyre safety in the summer months.
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