With Ireland set to finally experience something of heatwave in the coming days, with temperatures set to reach 26C across some parts of the country according to the Met Éireann, advice has been issued to motorists on how to drive safely.
While this isn't exactly the scorching temperatures experienced in hotter climes, it is still hot enough to make car temperatures uncomfortable for drivers and passengers.
Car insurance experts Chill have revealed their top tips for driving safely in a heatwave.
10 tips for driving in high temperatures
The first thing you need to be aware of when driving in a heatwave is the sunshine in your eyes. It is vital you can see clearly whilst driving and the sun blinding you or having to squint your eyes can restrict your vision. If you wear glasses ensure you wear prescription sunglasses or contact lenses with sunglasses on top, to get the clearest view possible.
Stay hydrated - but don’t leave your water in the car
As the driver it is important to be as comfortable as possible, which includes keeping your body hydrated. Becoming dehydrated can result in excessive tiredness or dizziness, therefore putting yourself and others at risk. However, you must remember to not leave your water bottle in the car as exposure to high temperatures can increase your risk of harmful chemicals produced by plastic - plus the water will be warm which tastes gross!
Find a parking spot in the shade
Try your best to park your car in the shade, particularly if you’re going to be away from the vehicle for an extended period of time. This is advised as car interiors are commonly dark in colour meaning they can become extremely hot to touch and sit in when returning to your vehicle, even more so if your interior is leather.
Check for engine overheating
A number of factors can contribute to a car engine overheating and a heatwave is one of them. Driving with an overheated engine can cause permanent damage to your car. Aside from the warning light on your dashboard, signs of an overheating engine can be steam from the car hood or a strange smell in the engine area. If this occurs pull over and turn your engine off immediately in a safe manner.
Take extra care of cyclists and pedestrians
Warmer weather increases the number of cyclists and pedestrians on and around the roads. Drivers should take extra care when turning corners, coming off the accelerator, and slowing down over any bend or stretch of road that restricts your view.
Regularly inspect tyre pressure
Heat causes expansion, including your tyres. Your tyre pressure increases every 10C, so it is vital you continuously check your tyre pressure during a heatwave. Inflated tyres lose traction, can cause uneven wearing, and ultimately makes your vehicle less safe to drive as your level of control decreases.
Check your battery
Excessive heat can cause the liquid in your car battery to evaporate causing permanent damage. Make sure your battery is charged or that you have jump leads in your car, to restart if necessary. You can usually tell if your car battery is low or dead if your car is struggling to start.
If you’re lucky enough to have a vehicle with air-conditioning, make sure you use the ‘air-recirculation’ function, this increases the coldness of your car as the cold air is continuously filtered around your car, rather than replacing the cooled air with hot air from outside. Recirculation also reduces the strain on your A/C system, therefore reducing fuel consumption. Cheaper and colder? It’s a no brainer!
Plan in advance
With the above tips such as checking your battery and tyre pressure, it’s important to take more time for your journey and plan in advance. What is the weather like in the place you’re travelling to? With an influx of cyclists on the roads you may have to slow down more than usual, so ensure you set off with extra time to accommodate for these factors.
Do not leave children or pets unattended
It is perhaps obvious, but no less important. Do not leave children or pets unattended in your vehicle. You should follow this all year round, but it is particularly vital during a heatwave as the interior of a car can get very hot (yes, even with a window down) resulting in heat-related illness or in some cases, death.
Chill is an Irish-based car and home insurer. They search and compare 14 different providers to help customers gain the best deals.
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