Combine long summer journeys with heavy traffic and hot weather for the perfect recipe for disaster. Unless you follow these tips to keeping cool in the car this summer.
Perfect preparation prevents poor performance
Before setting off on your long-awaited holiday or a cross-country trek to yet another wedding, have a quick think about the best time to travel. We’d recommend avoiding the busiest periods on the roads - Saturdays - and setting out early or late to avoid the rush.
The roads are particularly manic during the first two of the summer holidays and over bank holiday weekends. The RAC recommends avoiding:
- 1-8pm on the last Friday of the school term
- 11am - 4pm on the Saturday and Sunday of the first two weeks of the school summer holidays
This isn’t just about averting traffic jams: it’s also safer as most fatal or serious crashes occur due to bad driving which is exacerbated by heavy traffic.
Look after yourself
As the motorway signs say: “tiredness kills, take a break”. It’s worth planning your journey in advance to ensure you take plenty of pit-stops along the way. The Highway Code says drivers should:
- not begin a journey if you are tired and to get a good night’s sleep the night before your journey
- avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6am when your body is naturally less alert
- take a minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving
- stop in a safe place - not the motorway hard shoulder - if you feel at all sleepy, have a 15 minute nap followed by two cups of caffeinated coffee
Other tips to ensure drivers are primed for action include staying well hydrated, chewing peppermint gum and sitting up straight to help with alertness. It’s also worth considering adding your partner to your insurance so you can share the driving if you haven’t already done so.
A great antidote to the boredom of motorway journeys is to take the road less travelled. A-roads offer more interesting routes and varied driving plus spectacular views and points of interest to stop at along the way. And they’re not always much slower. Take Manchester to Hereford: it’s actually three minutes faster to take the A49 than the motorway route.
Look after your car
With food, drink, packing and people to consider, it can be easy to forget about your vehicle’s needs. It’s worth getting your car in early for its service if you’re off on a long journey. And you should always check basics like these:
- Tyre pressure and tread - ensure your tyres are pumped up in line with your manual. Not only is it safer but it saves fuel too. It’s easy to check whether your tyre tread is within the legal limit with this 20p trick.
- Screen wash levels - if you’re topping up your fuel, you can fill up your screen wash bottles at the same time.
- Space saver - have you got a spare tyre in the boot? If you meant to replace it but never quite got there, now’s the time.
- Tool kit - if you’ve got a spare tyre, you’ll need the right tools to replace it. Or face standing on the hard shoulder wishing you’d added a jack to your tools.
- Engine oil - use your dipstick to check your oil levels and top up if needed.
- Windscreen wipers - if the blades are looking a little ropey, pop out for some new blades. They’ll hardly break the bank but they could be all the difference between good and poor visibility.
- Water - when your engine’s cold check your coolant levels are between the MIN and MAX levels and top up with a 50/50 water and coolant mixture if needed.
Do this well before setting off so you have time to replace any parts that need a refresh. If you already drive a Tusker car, this kind of maintenance is included in your agreement so it will all be taken care of for you, free of charge.
Keep your passengers entertained
Bored kids will not only repeatedly ask: “are we there yet”, but they could also distract the driver placing your family and other road users at risk. Even if you aren’t travelling with kids, it’s still a good idea to have some form of in-car entertainment to keep everyone entertained on long journeys. Why not try these suggestions:
- Prepare a road-trip playlist with something for everyone and revisit some of your favourite tracks
- Download a play or an audiobook and listen in as the miles fly by
- Attach portable DVD players to the back of the front-seat headrests to keep back seat passengers entertained
- Ensure children have plenty of toys or fall back on old favourites like I spy or name that tune
Before you plan your next summer voyage, take a look at these handy articles:
- The best apps to avoid traffic jams
- What to do if you break down on the motorway
- What to do if you have an accident in your Tusker car
Like the sound of driving a brand new car that makes journeys cool, safe and enjoyable this summer? Take a look at our all-inclusive car benefit scheme with no credit checks required.