Getting bogged in the sand dunes

Tips for driving in the summer

by Andrea Muñoz

Travelling by car during the summer can be both challenging and tiring; the glare and heat of the sun can make it harder to concentrate and the higher temperatures can hinder your vehicle's ability to function properly and thus increase the likelihood of a breakdown. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make your car journeys easier and safer.

Tint the windows               

One of the biggest issues many people have with driving during the summer is how hot the inside of their car gets. Not only does this make spending time in the vehicle very uncomfortable, but it can also pose a health risk to more vulnerable passengers (such as the elderly, children and pets), as issues such as dehydration and heat stroke are more likely to occur in high temperatures. Most car owners try to resolve this issue by putting their air-conditioning on full-blast during every journey. However, using the air-conditioning too often can significantly lower your car's fuel efficiency and may even wear out the unit prematurely.

As an alternative, you may want to consider having your car's windows tinted. This can dramatically reduce the amount of heat that gets into the car and also help to reduce glare, which will make it easier to drive safely. Most window films are able to filter out almost all UV rays, meaning that in addition to creating a more comfortable driving environment, they can also help to protect both you and your passengers from the harmful effects of the sun (i.e skin cancer).

Create a summertime-appropriate breakdown kit

Breakdowns can happen during the summer for a multitude of reasons; the soaring temperatures can increase the chance of the engine overheating, a tyre bursting or the battery dying. This is why it is important to create an emergency breakdown kit which contains items that are 'summertime-appropriate'; that is, one that includes not only all of the usual essentials (such as jumper cables, a tyre-changing kit, a first-aid kit and a tow strap), but also goods that will keep you safe if the temperatures start to rise.

If your vehicle breaks down in an isolated area where there is very little shade, the first thing you'll need to do is take steps to protect you and your travelling companions from the heat of the sun. It could take some time for the towing services driver to reach you and during that period, you could potentially experience one of the above-mentioned health issues (i.e. heat stroke and dehydration).

If the car has a serious fault, it's quite possible that its electrical systems, including the air conditioning, may stop working; as such, it's important not to assume that you can rely on this to keep you cool. Invest in a portable pop-up shelter that you can keep in the boot of your car; this will  serve as a physical barrier that will shield you from the sun. Additionally, you may want to keep a couple of wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen in the boot. Make sure that you have a supply of bottled water too; ideally, you should have at least three litres for each person present.