The ultimate guide to driving safely this summer

30th Jul 2021

The ultimate guide to driving safely this summer

Got a long road trip planned this summer, or do you just feel like cruising the countryside? Whatever your summer driving aims, you need to be mindful of the additional hazards that come with warmer weather. Our summer safety guide will talk you through the best approaches to car maintenance, driver safety and passenger care.

First things first – are you ready for the road?

Your first inclination might be to check if your car is ready, but you also need to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind. If you’re planning long journeys, consider:
Have you travelled with this number of people before?
Maybe you’ve got a family outing or are heading off to a festival. As the driver, you need to make sure you’re prepared to handle any distractions. If it’s the first time heading out with a full car, perhaps do a trial run. Children are notoriously unpredictable – as are jolly festivalgoers.

Have you packed the right equipment?

Long or short, your summer car journey should always include appropriate hydration. Try to fill water bottles with room temperature liquids if you can. Freezing cold water is not absorbed as easily, which means it could take longer to hydrate.
The same goes for snacks and clothing. Keep your blood sugar levels topped up with non-perishable snacks (sweets are better than chocolate and cream-based products!). Ideally you should avoid having anything in your hands while driving, so pull over for snacks or ask a passenger to open packets.
Make sure you’re not driving in uncomfortable clothing. This will only cause distractions if you’re too hot or your shoes are too tight. You can change when you arrive. Likewise, avoid driving in flip flops. Though not illegal, the Driving Standards Agency tells us that flip flops or bare feet reduce our braking distance.

Are you qualified to drive?

Summer breaks might encourage people to take out temporary insurance, for example, to share long trips. While this is legal, you need to ensure that your leasing provider approves additional drivers. It is your responsibility to insure your vehicle, unless you have agreed an insurance package with your provider. Even then, your additional driver will need fully comprehensive cover and may need to be over 25 years of age.

Is your lease deal business or personal?

Don’t forget – business car leasing means you can only travel for business journeys. This does not include journeys to work. If you’re planning a leisurely trip, you will have to arrange alternative transport, or negotiate with your provider.

Are you fit to drive?

There’s no denying that social gatherings in summer involve alcohol. Decide in advance if you’re the designated driver. The legal driving limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is extremely low – 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – and for good reason.
It’s even lower in Scotland – 50 milligrams – so it’s best to avoid drinking altogether. There’s no way of measuring if it’s “just one pint” or “just one glass of wine”. Multiple factors come into play including weight, age and stress levels, so don’t try to gamble.

Is your car ready to drive?

Once you’re ready to go, next it’s time to check your vehicle. Leased vehicles are typically less than three years old, so they’re unlikely to have as much wear and tear as older cars. However, there are other considerations, like tyres, coolant and windscreens.

What’s the difference between summer and winter tyres?

Some drivers prefer to switch their tyres as the seasons change. This is especially important in countries with more extreme weather. Summer tyres have fewer sipes (the grooves in tyres to improve grip), which can help to reduce aquaplaning in downpours.
Check with your leasing provider to see if non-damaged tyres can be replaced in your maintenance package. You also need to check your tyre pressures. These can increase in warmer temperatures, so refer to your vehicle guide to make sure yours are the appropriate pressure.

Have you topped up your oil and engine coolant?

These will both be checked with regular servicing, but higher temperatures can cause levels to deplete. Use the ‘dipstick test’ – wipe the stick clean, dip it into the oil tank and check to see what level it reaches when you remove it.
You can look at engine coolant levels under the bonnet, or your onboard computer may tell you both. Keep windscreen washer fluid topped up, too – summer brings in lots of flies.

Is your aircon ready to go?

It’s wise to have a ‘regas’ or check before you set out on a long journey. The last thing you want is an unexpected blast of hot air! To save fuel, turn the air conditioning off once the car has reached the desired temperature. Never drive with air con blasting and windows open.

Do you have breakdown cover?

Check with your leasing provider as to what your maintenance package provides. If you’re travelling abroad, make sure your package covers this too – the last thing you need is to break down in an unfamiliar area without cover.

Passengers and those around you

Don’t forget that country roads may have more horses, joggers, or unfamiliar drivers on them during the summer. Approach with caution.
Looking after others
If you’re travelling with a pet or young child, NEVER leave them in a hot car. Temperatures can soar from 70F to 104 in just 30 minutes, or 113 in an hour.
Suffering from hay fever? Make sure you read the labels if you take any medication, as this may cause drowsiness. However, if you feel passenger sneezing may distract you, it may be wise to offer medication as prescribed.

Final top tips

• Wear sunglasses and use overhead visors to reduce glare
• Make sure your windscreen is clean before you set off
• Check tyre pressures in cars packed with luggage
Wear sunscreen even when driving. While you won’t get sunburn, your skill will still suffer the effects of UVA rays.
Ready to pack up and go? Speak to one of our friendly leasing consultants today.