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How can drivers stay safe in heatwave conditions?

With Britain in the grip of its first major heatwave in seven years, it is clear that the country is ill-equipped to handle prolonged periods of high temperatures brought about by heatwave conditions.

The Met Office has been issuing weather warnings, while plenty of experts have been doling out public health advice to ensure people don’t succumb to the heat.

It’s not something we’re used to at this time of year. We probably expect to hear health and weather warnings during the winter, but a heatwave brings with its own problems.

High temperatures can be a particularly big deal for motorists, so what can you do in order to ensure you can stay safe on the road when the mercury rises?

Perhaps the first thing you should do is check whether your vehicle is roadworthy. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recommends that you find out if your tyre pressure is within safe levels and that they are adequately inflated.

You should also keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear on your tyres, such as low treads and cuts, otherwise they might not provide enough grip on the road surface.

The ABI has also recommended checking coolant and vehicle oil levels, as overheating is likely to occur if they are too low, while an engine seizure is also possible.

Another thing to be mindful of during prolonged spells of hot weather is the likelihood of falling victim to crime.

Chances are we’ll open our windows and sunroofs when we’re on the move, so if we’re leaving our vehicle unattended for a couple of minutes, it can be tempting just to leave them like that.

But it can take just a moment for an opportunist thief to spot an open window and grab anything that might be inside the car.

With that in mind, don’t leave any valuables or desirable possessions on display in your vehicle, such as a sat nav or cash.

You should also make sure you have locked the doors before leaving your car unattended – why make it easy for thieves to gain access?

Finally, remember that hot weather can be bad for your health. While people such as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are particularly vulnerable, it’s worth remembering that high temperatures can affect all of us.

Dehydration, for instance, is a very real possibility, as hot weather can cause our bodies to lose more fluid than normal so it can’t cool itself properly. We might struggle to perspire, breathe and perhaps even stay conscious.

So, if you’re going to be driving for some time – perhaps if you’re on a day out with the kids this summer or going to see relatives – then be prepared and have a bottle of water with you in the car.

Maybe take occasional breaks throughout a long drive as well, so you can get more fluids and recharge your batteries. The heat can be draining and the last thing you want to do is fall asleep when you’re behind the wheel.

Take these precautions and hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy safe and enjoyable motoring this summer.

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