10 Ways to Cope with Summer Weather
The long days of summer are here! Gone are the days of freezing temperatures, dreaded black ice, and the blizzards of winter that can make driving hazardous. However, don’t underestimate the challenges of dealing with summer weather while on the road. The blistering summer sun can vehicles, drivers, and passengers – and even the family pet! Here are 10 smart ways to cope with driving in summer weather.
Expect the unexpected
While you can’t change the weather, you can be prepared to deal with it. Check the forecast so that you can plan what to pack in your vehicle, including rain gear or umbrellas. If the area you’ll be driving through is known for the weather you rarely experience at home, such as tornadoes or hail storms, getting the lowdown on how to deal with the unexpected will make your trip more pleasant.
Understand the storms
Summer ushers in a feeling of freedom, but it also brings with it sun showers, thunderstorms, slippery roads, and flash floods. Know what to expect if you find yourself in these conditions.
If the sky darkens and begins to unload on your vehicle, reduce your speed and turn on the headlights. Roads get slippery when the rain starts, so be extra careful and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Additionally, wet brakes are less responsive and you may need more time to slow down.
If visibility becomes an issue, you can park on the side of the road or in an appropriate parking area until the storm has passed over. In a severe storm, however, make sure you’re not near trees, power lines, or other objects that could be knocked over by strong winds. If appropriate, consider turning on your hazard lights to let other drivers know where your vehicle is. And remember, if lightning strikes, the safest place is inside your car, so stay there.
Are tornadoes or hail storms common where you'll be traveling? If you see a tornado in the distance while driving, try to drive at a right angle from the storm and find a shelter such as a rest stop, restaurant or convenience store. However, if the tornado comes upon you suddenly, do not stay in your car. Take shelter in a low spot such as a ditch. And remember that overpasses are the worst place to be in a tornado since winds pick up there. While large hail falling on your vehicle can be scary, hail probably won’t break your windshield. However, the more fragile side windows could be severely affected. In a serious hail storm try to find cover, whether in a parking garage, an overpass, or another safe area.
Keep your cool
When parking your car for any length of time, use sunshades in the windows to keep the internal temperature at a minimum. Be careful when sitting in parked cars, since temperatures can rise fast even if the windows are open. Never leave a child or a pet alone in a vehicle.
Make sure your vehicle keeps its cool
Your vehicle’s engine needs to stay cool too. The cooling system helps keep temperatures at a minimum, but even the coolant can heat up. Before starting your car check the coolant levels, and check the radiator and hoses for any cracks. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge while driving. If the engine is getting hot, give your vehicle a break! Stop driving and give the engine time to cool down so that you can prevent permanent damage.
Keep a clear view
The sun’s glare off of other cars and road surfaces reduces visibility, so keep a pair of sunglasses on hand. Also make sure your windshield is clean since a dirty windshield reduces visibility even more.
Don’t underestimate your allergies
Don’t downplay how driving with allergies can affect you. The symptoms themselves can distract you or an allergy medication may leave you feeling drowsy. Over-the-counter antihistamines can affect you in the same way alcohol does. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see what they recommend to control symptoms while driving.
Additionally, before heading out, clean your vehicle well to reduce mold, pollen or other irritating substances. Close the windows to reduce irritants entering the car, and consider wearing sunglasses to avoid getting irritants in your eyes.
In those hot summer months be sure to pack enough water for the ride. Keep in mind that you may get stuck in traffic when driving through cities. When going through rural areas there may not be a convenience store on every corner. Have extra water on hand in case you have an emergency situation. Additionally, all those hours exposed to the summer sun can burn sensitive skin, so apply sunscreen regularly while driving.
Check your tires
Summer weather affects the tires, making the tire pressure rise as the temperatures rise. That perfect tire pressure before you started out may be too high once you’ve been on the road for a while. On the other hand, underinflated tires create more friction on the road and can also increase the temperature. What to do? Check tire pressure often while on the road in hot weather.
Late night dangers
Part of the beauty of summer is the sunlight that doesn’t want to quit into the night hours. However, those long nights are tricky, since you may not realize just how late it is and how tired you are. Be sure to get enough sleep while driving, since driving while drowsy can easily lead to collisions.