Essential Summer Driving Safety Tips
So, you've finally bought a new car though vehicle financing and are now excited to drive under the Australian summer sun? Sure, it’s fun-filled and exciting as it offers picturesque sceneries of cities, outback towns, beaches, and deserts. On the other hand, the hot weather can also harm you and your vehicle.
While you can get dehydrated and exhausted inside a hot and poorly ventilated car, your vehicle can also get damaged and worn out—The interior cabin burn like frying pan, the paint fade and crack, and the wheels overinflate and interfere with braking or even blow out.
This is why it’s important to take safety precautions when driving in the hot weather. Here are several steps you can do to ensure that you (and your car) stay cool and avoid summer-related injuries and damage.
1. Make sure that you and your car are in good condition
Before stepping into your vehicle and hitting the roads, thoroughly inspect your car for any damage or any other issues that could seriously damper your driving. See to it that your car’s servicing is up to date and the tyres are in good condition. Conduct a pre-departure tyre pressure, water and oil level check before embarking on your trip, especially long journeys, to prevent an uncomfortable breakdown on the road.
Test out your AC for strange sounds or warmer air that’s coming out of your vents. To ensure that all air conditioning issues are fixed, get a certified technician to check and do any necessary repair. Make sure that the cabin air filter is clean. You don’t wanna get trapped sitting inside a smelly, hot car for quite a long time.
If you haven’t had your car serviced in the last six months, it’s best to have it checked over by a professional.
Also, make sure that your vehicle is up to the challenge. If you’re heading off-roads and onto rough, unstable grounds, powerful utes, like Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, are your ideal off-roading companions. For city driving, small and medium-sized vehicles, especially hybrids, are recommended because they can fit in the crowded, busy streets and can rely on the electric motors instead of the engine.
As for yourself and your travelling companions, health is essential. Do not drive long distances if you're not feeling well. Heat and humidity are hard on the heart. While anyone can suffer heatstroke, those with cardiovascular diseases are at greater risk. Heat can also worsen chronic pain. If you don’t need to travel in the summer sun, it’s best to stay and enjoy a relaxing time at home.
2. Fuel up before starting your journey
If you’re travelling on petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, make sure to have a full tank before leaving for the road. This is especially important if you’re heading to the Outback where servos are scarce. If your car doesn’t have a long-range fuel tank, pack a couple of containers with extra fuel. It’s better to spend extra money on fuel than getting stranded on the side of the road with 300 kilometres to the next fuel station.
Hybrids and EVs are not ideal for long-distance driving but if you don’t have a choice than to travel in one, at least make sure your car is fully charged and you know the charging stations along the way.
Just like your car, make sure you’re “well-fueled” before hitting the roads, especially for long distances. Travelling on an empty stomach and parching throat not only can affect your focus and distract you from the road, it can also lead to unnecessary stops (sometimes in unfamiliar environments) to look for food and water.
3. Use summer gear and outfit
Make your car summer-ready by having the right gear and equipment, like summer tyres, wiper blades, and mats; and air conditioning system.
- Softer winter tyres are designed to stay flexible in cooler temperatures, but they wear more quickly in the warm weather. If you’re travelling long distances during the dry season, summer tyres are ideal. They have specialized tread patterns and rubber compounds for improved precision on the road. Their thread patterns have less grooving and put more rubber in contact with the road, which provides maximum road-holding grip. Meanwhile, their tread compounds are designed for better traction and grip. Summer tyres also have shallower tread depths, which offer more stability when pushed closer to their limits.
- In the same way, summer wiper blades and mats use a different material than their winter blade counterparts, so it’s ideal to change into them before travelling in the warm weather.
It’s also best to get a pre-summer tune-up that checks your coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, engine and exhaust systems, as well as test your electronic components like sensors.
When parking your car, use a sun shield beneath the windshield to keep its interior heat down.
Meanwhile, your summer driving or travelling outfit should be comfortable. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen, especially if you're not driving or riding a tinted vehicle. Also, sunglasses (polarized sunnies if possible) and hats or headgear come in handy for when you need to step out of the vehicle.
4. Stay hydrated
Always travel with plenty of water to stay hydrated. The hot weather can dehydrate you during long road trips. Bring more if you’re travelling with other people and pets. Invest in a quality esky and water containers, especially if you’re road-tripping through the Australian outback. Many portable coolers are also electric-powered and can be plugged into your car’s lighter outlet, keeping your beverages cold while you drive. Some of these coolers are also small enough to fit on top of the armrest in your backseat. If you need to bring more cold drinks, invest in a bigger ice cooler that you can place in the cargo area of your car.
Stay away from caffeinated drinks. They can quench your thirst and help keep you awake on the road, but they are also diuretics.
5. Be wary of natural hazards
The Australian summer can get so hot that it can cause heat waves, drought and bushfires that can occur with minimal warning. Always pay attention to your surroundings, check for road closures and get regular weather updates. If a road is closed and hazard warning signs and labels are installed, for instance, don’t drive past the warning signs.
When driving in extreme weather, adjust your speed to the conditions. In poor visibility, use your headlights to give an early warning to oncoming traffic.
Avoid driving outback roads that are flat, straight and run directly east or west during dawn and dusk to avoid road accidents. If you don’t have a choice, slow down. During these periods, many wild animals are also active. They can appear suddenly in the middle of the road so it’s best not to speed.
6. Bring emergency and first aid kits
You never know what’s going to happen on the road. Always prepare for the inconveniences that the hot weather brings by bringing a basic emergency kit for your vehicle. These include:
- One spare wheel in good condition
- OBD2 Scanner Code Reader
- A toolkit that includes a screwdriver, car jack, brace, socket set, c-clamp, lug nut wrench, and spanner
- Tire sealant and gauge
- Tow rope and jump starter
- A fire extinguisher
- Visibility equipment like a flare and reflective hazard triangles
- Torch, lighter, matches, and batteries
Meanwhile, a well-stocked first-aid kit and medications can help you prepare for untoward illnesses and accidents while on the road. If you have allergies, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about allergy medications that don't impact your alertness or energy.
Also, don’t just carry these emergency and first-aid kits; Ensure that you also know how to use them.
7. Stay safe and cool on the road
Don’t let the hot weather make you crabby. Listen to your favourite songs while keeping your focus on the road. This will help you relax and lighten up. Remember that during summer, many riders share the road with you, as well as heaps of random roadworks that remove lanes and force the detour. To avoid collisions and road emergencies:
- Do not share lanes with motorcycles and bicycles.
- When following bikes, increase your distance to four seconds or more.
- Always scan the roadway in front, to the rear, and the sides of your car for bikers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
- Follow road signs and look out for pedestrians or workers when going through construction zones.
If, unfortunately, your car breaks down or you suffer a road accident in the outback, safely get your vehicle clear of the road without obscuring it from passing traffic. Try to find a shade to park your vehicle and keep it cool.
Use your car’s emergency reflector so it’s clear for other motorists that you need assistance. While waiting for help to arrive, stay inside your vehicle to avoid getting mugged or attacked by wild animals.
8. Take a rest
Driving long distances under the hot weather can be exhausting for both you and your car. Do not hesitate to take a short break or swap drivers every two hours on the road if you're riding with someone who knows how to drive. This can help avoid exhaustion behind the wheels, which is often the cause of many road accidents.
Some of the warning signs of exhaustion include:
- Dry and sore eyes
- Lack of focus
- Slower reactions than usual
Driving in the Australian Outback in the summer is one big adventure. To enjoy your time on the wheels, make sure your car is as well-conditioned as you.
Travel as far as you can can go with a trusty car that will not let you down on the road. At Positive Lending Solutions, we can help you buy your dream with an affordable car loan from our wide network of lending partners across Australia. Call us on 1300 722 210 or fill out the Loan Pre-Approval form now.