So thousands of us will soon be loading up the boot, or hitching on the caravan, strapping bikes to the roof rack (they never look too secure to me, those things!) and piling the kids into the back, bucket and spades at the ready. Now much as we would like to, we can't control traffic jams, but we can help make sure you reach your destination suffering no more than 'are we there yet' fatigue.
We go to great lengths to ensure our cars get us from A to B through the harsh winter months, yet when it comes to heading off on a long journey in the summer many of us think nothing of just loading up and going. But summer driving brings its own hazards.
Whilst most of us accept that congestion on favoured holiday routes is a seasonal irritation, it carries potentially dangerous side effects. The most obvious one is that a vehicle idling in slow moving traffic, particularly in hot weather, is more inclined to overheat. Do NOT be tempted to remove the radiator or cooling system cap, the engine will be extremely hot and there is a risk of serious injury. Prevention is better than cure so make sure you check your water levels before you set off, and keep a large bottle of water in the vehicle for topping up... only when the engine is completely cool.
Impatient holiday drivers can lead to road rage or just plain crazy driving, tailgating, cutting you up or trying to intimidate you. Don't be bullied into haphazard driving yourself, and certainly don't retaliate.
Many drivers will be travelling on unfamiliar roads, trying to read maps or relying on (and frequently glancing at) Sat Nav systems. This can lead to sudden changes of direction, slow driving and lack of concentration on the road ahead. Make sure this isn't you. Know your route before you leave, keep an up to date road atlas in the car and stop if you need to refer to it. Sat Navs are marvellous pieces of equipment but are not 100% foolproof, many's the driver who’s found himself in a farmer's field having slavishly followed the little screen's instructions to the letter. Keep an eye on where you are, road names, motorway junction numbers, landmarks and villages. If you break down and have relied solely on the instructions of the Sat Nav you are likely to have no clue where you are if you've not been keeping an eye out.
It should go without saying that you check your tyres before setting off, both for wear and pressure. Hot weather causes the air in your tyres to expand, which can lead to a blow out in worn tyres. Make sure you have a good serviceable spare. Many new cars now come with a repair kit as opposed to a spare, or with 'run flat' tyres. I would urge you to find the room in your vehicle for a space saver tyre (most are good for a couple of hundred miles at speeds below 50mph) as sourcing a replacement tyre at 9pm on a Sunday in the Scottish Highlands is not going to be an easy task. One of the greatest lessons you may learn is how to change a tyre. The major breakdown companies state that around 35% of callouts are for wheel changes. It’s not unusual in the holiday season for waiting times to be at least two hours; it takes around 15 minutes to change a wheel. Do not however attempt to do this, or any type of repair, if you're on the motorway.
This leads us to the motorway and more specifically the hard shoulder, which is arguably one of the most dangerous places on our road network. First and foremost if your car breaks down you need to get to the hard shoulder and get out of the car, preferably via the doors furthest away from the moving traffic. Get yourself and your passengers over the barrier or up the embankment if there is one, leave the vehicle side lights and hazard warning lights switched on and call your breakdown service or wait for the Highways Agency (their camera systems will spot you relatively quickly - or use an SOS box) If at any time you feel you have to wait in the car (and rain is not an acceptable reason) stay on the passenger side with seatbelts securely fastened.
Finally, schools out and hopefully the sun is also out. This means more young drivers on the road – they may be perfectly responsible but they are also less experienced and possibly more nervous. Similarly there are also more bikes and motorbikes on the roads and they can be particularly vulnerable in heavy traffic conditions.
So make sure your car is prepared for summer. With 20 years’ industry experience 1st Stop Cars can take care of all your motoring needs. Based in Rochford near Southend, the local garage’s quality services include MOT's while you wait, tyres, welding, clutches, exhausts, brakes and body repairs. If you're looking for a major service or simply an oil change and tyre pressure check, the team at 1st Stop Cars pride themselves in an honest, reliable personal service, with all work pre-quoted and an assurance that they will only ever fit a part that the car requires.
If you drop by, 1st Stop Cars will ensure you are seen within 10 to 15 minutes of your arrival, or you can call them on 01702 544284 to arrange a convenient appointment time. What's more, if you head to our Offers page you will find a generous selection of money saving offers from 1st Stop Cars which include FREE valeting, and substantial savings on servicing and MOT's.
Make sure you mention thebestof Southend and the relevant offer when you call 1st Stop Cars.
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