Tips for safe summer driving

In hot weather, driving can be uncomfortable for you – and it can put stress on your car. Make sure you’re prepared for driving in the warmer months. 

To help you, here are a few tips on driving safely when summer arrives.

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How to stay safe in the summer

    • Watch out for pedestrians and cyclists on the roads in the warmer weather. Stay vigilant and follow the advice in the Highway Code.
    • During busy times of the day, allow extra time for your trip. Also, make sure to account for busier traffic in the school holidays.
    • Protect yourself from the sun’s glare by bringing sunglasses and keeping your windscreen clear.
    • If you suffer from hay fever, check that your medication doesn’t cause drowsiness. If it does, ask someone else to drive. It can help to keep windows and air vents closed to stop too much pollen getting into the car.

    Fatigue is dangerous and can cause accidents. Try to get a good night’s sleep before driving. You should aim to take 15-minute breaks every two hours, or whenever you start to feel tired.

    If you smoke, never throw cigarette butts or flick ash out the window. Dry grass beside the road could catch fire, which could cause damage and delays. As well as being a fire risk, it’s also a criminal offence to litter.

  • Put together a safe summer driving kit, so you’re ready for any bumps in the road, including:

    • a first aid kit
    • an empty fuel can
    • a torch and additional batteries
    • a sat nav or road atlas
    • a mobile phone charger and power pack, along with a fully charged phone
    • cool/iced water
    • sunglasses
    • sun cream.

High temperatures can overheat your car as well as the people inside it. Here are a few tips on lowering the heat when the sun is at its hottest:


  • Bring water on your trips to keep your passengers refreshed and hydrated.
  • Although it’s trickier to find a spot, try to park in the shade.
  • Sun shields are a good way to deflect some of the sun’s heat while you’re parked.
  • Switch on the air con while you drive to lower the temperature inside.
  • No air con? Opening your car windows is the next best option.

Never leave children or pets in the car when it’s hot – not even with windows open. Cars heat up faster and maintain high temperatures for longer than their surroundings. 

Keep up with summer maintenance

Between your regular services there are some things you can do to keep your car in good condition and help you stay safe in the hot weather:

  • Screen wash

    Ensure you maintain good visibility of the road by keeping your screen wash topped up. Even in good weather, dust and insect debris can build up on your windscreen.


    To keep your car running smoothly, you should regularly check your engine oil levels.


    Check your tyre pressure regularly and top it up if you need to. If you’re going to be carrying heavy loads, find out if you need to adjust your tyre pressure before you set off.

    When it’s warmer, your car is more at risk of blowouts. So, keep an eye out for wear and tear on your tyres too.

  • Lights

    Make sure to check that your lights are working and replace any bulbs that have gone out. They’re an important safety feature, helping you to see and other drivers to see you.

    Cooling systems

    An effective cooling system can stop your car from overheating – and make travel more comfortable for you when it’s warmest. If you spot small puddles of water under your car after a trip, don’t worry. It could just be the condensed fluid from the air con system.

  • Car battery

    Batteries usually last around 3-5 years. Using your air con and charging multiple devices can drain it. Even slow-moving traffic could cause problems because your car’s electrical system regains battery charge through motion. Could now be the time for a replacement?


    Your alternator can be expensive and time-consuming to fix if there’s a problem – and issues like battery fatigue can put extra strain on it. So, to catch things before they become too costly, make sure you follow your vehicle’s recommended servicing schedule.


    Your clutch can go through a lot of wear and tear from slow-moving traffic, driving in unfamiliar places and towing trailers and caravans. There are a few things you can do to help: make sure to maintain your car, try to avoid heavy traffic, familiarise yourself with where you’re driving to, and check the towing capacity of your vehicle.

Staying safe whatever the weather

  • For a useful reminder of what to check before you set off, remember COVERS:

    Coolant – this prevents your engine from overheating, as well as making sure the water in your car doesn’t freeze in cold weather. You can top it up yourself – it should be between the min and max levels. But if you need to do this often, it could mean that something’s wrong.

    Oil – this also needs to be checked and topped up to stop your engine from overheating or being damaged.

    Visibility – topping up your screen wash and checking the water jets are clear are important for maintaining good windscreen visibility on your journey. You could be fined or receive points if you drive with impaired visibility.

    Electrics – carry out a safety check, testing that your lights, indicators, windows and wipers are all working correctly.

    Rubber – check the condition of your tyres. Each of them should have 3mm of tread and they should be inflated to the right pressure. Don’t forget to make sure your windscreen wiper blades are in good condition too.

    Supplies – if you end up stuck in slow-moving traffic, it can use up more fuel/battery charge than you might expect. Fill up with extra fuel or charge up the battery a little more to take into account any delays, so you’re ready for the journey ahead.

  • Make sure that you’ve packed these car survival essentials in case you break down or get stuck in traffic:

    • jump leads
    • a high-vis jacket or vest
    • reflective warning triangles
    • warm and waterproof clothes
    • a sleeping bag/foil blankets
    • snacks and drinks
    • sensible shoes.

    And, to help you stay safe all year round, follow these three driving tips:

    Keep your cool. Being stressed won’t help you or other drivers.

    Two hands should be on the steering wheel, and stay focused on the road.

    Three-second gap – make sure to keep this distance between you and the car in front.

  • If you’re not sure what to do in case of a breakdown, follow these steps:

    • switch on your hazard lights
    • exit the vehicle on the left if you can
    • leave pets in the car
    • call for help, then wait on the side of the road a safe distance away
    • put on your high-vis vest or jacket if you have one.

    It can be dangerous to try to fix the car, so it’s better to call and wait for professional assistance.

  • Getting your car serviced in line with the manufacturer’s guidance could help keep your car running safely. Usually this is annually or every 12,000 miles – whichever you reach first.

    Your service will check all the essentials, such as your car’s engine, battery, suspension, coolant levels, steering, brakes, exhaust, bodywork, tyres, lights and oil filter.

    More benefits of servicing your car include:

    • Extending its lifespan by maintaining its performance.
    • Lower risk of breakdown.
    • Better fuel economy.

    If you’re not sure when your car was last serviced, you can check its logbook. If it’s overdue, your local dealership or garage could help.

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