Tips for enjoying safe driving in high temperatures
Driving a hire car in a wonderfully warm place is a fun part of the trip. But when temperatures get really high, it's worth making sure you stay safe in the car. Discover how to enjoy your trip when you're driving in the heat.
If you’re not used to driving in hot countries, it’s worth being a little prepared for the challanges of high tmperatures.
What are the dangers of driving in hot countries?
The most obvious hazards when driving in hot countries are sun glare, which can dramatically reduce visibility. Hot sunshine can also cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. These can quickly take effect if your car isn’t fitted with air conditioning and you don’t drink enough water.
Then there are the more indirect risks, such as flash floods, and slick roads after rainfall. Long, dry spells can cause oil and dust to build up on the tarmac which gets slippery when mixed when the rain finally arrives.
According to the United States’ National Weather Service, heat kills more people in the US than any other weather condition. That’s more than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Here are some easy tips to help you stay safe and comfortable in high temperatures.
Tips for driving in hot countries
1) Plan ahead
No matter where in the world you travel to, more people get out and about when the weather’s good, which means the roads will be busier and there’s a greater chance of traffic congestion - high temperatures and bad-tempered drivers really don’t mix well.
Avoid peak traffic by setting off a bit earlier for a more leisurely drive, and make sure you plan alternative routes or destinations to avoid the worst of the traffic.
2) Cover up
Although you’ll want to drop the top on your cabriolet or pull the sunroof back to the let the sun in, it’s best to keep covered up, particularly during the hotter times of the day. To keep cool, run the air conditioning and keep the windows closed to get the most of the cold air.
Make sure you use sunglasses and the car’s sun visors to reduce glare, and pack sunshields for the side windows if you have passengers in the back.
3) Pack a summer survival kit
Dehydration can set in quickly, so make sure you pack plenty of water. Take more than you think you’ll need in case the journey takes longer than planned, and some snacks to keep you and your passengers fuelled.
And don’t forget the sunscreen, it might be worth keeping a spare bottle in the car’s glovebox, as well any antihistamine or allergy tablets you may need – streaming eyes and sneezing fits are the last thing you need when you’re at the wheel.
4) Top up with fuel and fluids
Cars use more fuel when the air conditioning is running, so fill the tank with fuel before you set off. Check the oil is topped up, as well as the wiper and coolant reservoirs. If you see the temperature gauge creeping towards the red, pull over safely and give the engine a chance to cool down.
It’s unlikely your rental car will break down, but there’s always a chance, particularly when the engine is sucking in suffocatinglly warm air. Check with your rental company what to do if the car breaks down.
5) How to drive with sun glare
If the sun is low on the horizon and visibility is reduced, avoid slamming on the breaks. Instead, gently brake to slow down, and put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers. Pull down the sun visor and put on sunglasses then drive slowly until visibility improves.
6) How to drive on slick roads
If there’s a sudden deluge, roads can quickly become slick. This means you should slow the car down to suit the conditions, but avoid any harsh braking and sudden steering. If you find your car aquaplaning, avoid hitting the brakes hard, and instead gently ease off the accelerator while holding the steering wheel straight. If your car has cruise control, turn this off, then as soon as you feel the car regaining its grip, you can start gently braking to bring your speed down.