Driving in the summer: top tips for learner drivers
With summer already upon us, many Brits are donning the sun cream and shades, ready for the warm weather. If you’re learning to drive during the summer months, however, some of this time will be spent in a car, learning the ways of the road. While learning to drive can be a challenge in itself, tackling the road in hot weather conditions is another feat entirely.
So to help learner drivers cope with driving in summer weather, this article offers some top tips – from staying hydrated to keeping an eye out for more vulnerable road users enjoying the summer sun, such as cyclists and motorcyclists.
When learning to drive during the summer it is important to keep hydrated. Even if your driving lesson only lasts one hour, driving in the sun can make you dehydrated, so it’s wise to drink plenty of water before starting your lesson.
If you become dehydrated, fatigued or tired, your reaction time, attention span and judgement may be impacted which could result in an accident. Luckily you have a driving instructor in the passenger seat to help you out, but once you’ve passed your test and you’re on the road by yourself, you need to stay as alert as possible which is why staying hydrated and cool is very important. You should also think about taking a bottle of water with you in case you end up stuck in traffic.
Keep cool air flowing
Most modern cars will have air con, but if for some reason your instructor’s car doesn’t, don’t be afraid to crack open a window to keep cool air flowing through the vehicle. Warm air can make you drowsy, so to ensure you stay comfortable and alert, make sure you keep cool air circulating inside the car.
Think hay fever
Everybody knows summertime is prime time for hay fever. If you suffer from hay fever or allergies, make sure you take medication before driving. Itchy eyes and constant sneezing at the wheel of a vehicle is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous too. But make sure you check the label first. Many types of medication, especially hay fever tablets, can have side effects including drowsiness and blurred vision – which can be very problematic when you’re driving.
Avoid glare from the sun
Depending on how tall you are, you may encounter the awkward situation of being too short for the sun visor, which is why taking a pair of sunglasses with you can come in handy. If you’re driving towards the sun, not only will you struggle to see but your eyes will become strained and tired, making sun visors and sunglasses essential for summer driving.
Check your tyres
While this may not be an initial concern for you as your driving instructor will most likely ensure the tyres are in good condition, it is always good to check especially if you’re learning to drive in your own car. If your tyres are worn and in a poor condition, hot weather can cause the air inside to expand, increasing the chances of blowouts and punctures. This is why you should always ensure your tyres are in good condition and that your tyre pressure is at an optimum level before driving.
Look out for vulnerable road users
Warmer weather tends to attract more road-users, whether it be bikers, cyclists, caravans or horse riders. This means you’ll need to be extra vigilant when driving, especially if you’re driving along country lanes where other types of road users can often be found enjoying the summer sun.
Motorcyclists, in particular, tend to appear more often in the summer months. Take extra care when a motorcyclist is in your vicinity and always check your mirrors thoroughly to make sure a rider hasn’t appeared around a corner or is suddenly behind you after overtaking another vehicle, for example.
Prepare for summer showers
Even though it’s summer, it’s best to be prepared for the odd summer shower – after all, it is Britain! While it’s dry, the two-second rule for stopping distance will apply, but if it suddenly starts to rain, you should leave at least a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front because you’ll need to give yourself a greater time to brake.
Following a vehicle too closely can be very dangerous because if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes and you haven’t left a large enough gap to react, you could end up crashing into the back of them.
Driving in hot weather can cause several effects, so if you’re feeling dizzy, fatigued or drowsy, be sure to let your driving instructor know immediately. While you have the safety net of your driving instructor, you can afford to make a few mistakes now and then. But when you’re driving solo in warm weather or excessive heat, you need to make sure you’re prepared, which means keeping hydrated, cool and aware of other, more vulnerable road users.