Summer driving should be a breeze (along with ice cream treats, soaking up rays on the beach, UEFA EURO 2016 on TV, not to mention garden parties, music festivals, Pimm’s on the lawn…) It’s all waiting for us! Talking of Pimm’s and other alcoholic delights, do people drink more in summer compared to the rest of the year (not including Christmas, of course)?
If they do, does that mean incidence of drink-driving increases when the sun has got its hat on, thus making Britain’s local and arterial roads, as well as motorways, more dangerous? Hmm… Well, our roads in summer are certainly more congested, usually due to people being more inclined to head for the coast, to theme parks, to other fun day out attractions with the kids, or simply to go for a spin with the windows rolled down and the radio blaring out banging tunes on blazing afternoons. Unfortunately, drink-driving offences also sky-rocket, so be extra vigilant for reckless motorists on the roads.
Summer driving – Jess’s story
“I’d be lost without my car in the school holidays,” explains Jess in Balham, London. “Taking my four kids down to Brighton for the day is great. And it’s cheaper than the train. I take them hop-picking in the Kent countryside in summer, too. I couldn’t really afford to do any of that without my car. The only thing I don’t like is the aggressive drivers. You know what people can get like behind the wheel once the sun comes out and the temperature rises.”
Check your tyres
It’s not just hot tempered motorists who’ll increase in number when spring ends and summer arrives in all its scorching glory. Tyre puncture stats can also climb, just like blow-outs. Why? Well, it’s a ‘heat thing’. When the mercury rises inside thermometers everywhere during July and August (typically our hottest months), tyres become aggravated. It’s a good idea to check the tyres even if you’ve just taken delivery of your vehicle; not every used car dealership is as diligent as we are; so check those tyres! Whatever damage is there will probably worsen, as the rubber reacts to the sun’s relentless warming. Any weak spot will suddenly be exposed to increased heat and will be deteriorate all the more, especially if your tyres are not inflated properly.
Quick tip: Remember to check the pressure in your spare tyre, too, which can usually be found in the boot.
“Incredibly, I once had two rear tyres blow out while in the middle lane of the M25 on a blistering August afternoon,” explains Tim from Rickmansworth, Watford. “Imagine. My wife Trudy is six months’ pregnant and decidedly hot and bothered. Our two toddlers are in the back, fighting, pinching, whingeing, demanding cool drinks… The car is like an oven despite us having all the windows wound down and the air con on full blast. And then the tyres blow!”
They sat there stationary in the middle lane, as hundreds of other cars angrily weaved their way around them.
“I was sure that some boy-racer was going to ram us from behind at any moment,” continues Tim.
“Thank God the Police eventually arrived and got us onto the hard shoulder where we waited until the RAC turned up. Ultimately, it was my fault: I was responsible for maintaining our family car’s roadworthiness, and I neglected to check the tyres’ condition before setting off on what had actually begun as a beautiful and breezy summer’s day – a day that soon transmogrified into a living hell.”
Summer loads are often heavier
Do take pains to keep tyre pressure levels as they should be, and if you notice any cracks, tiny splits, nicks or any other kind of damage, take your car to a garage and get your tyres professionally looked at. OK, that will incur a fee (as well as the possible cost of a new tyre or two) but it is well worth doing. Essential, in fact. Summer car trips can often also mean heavier loads, don’t forget, making it a no-brainer that your tyres are correctly inflated and in good condition.
Do you need to get a car sorted before summer arrives, but all your phone calls to car finance companies are proving as welcome as a cobra at a barbecue?