As the warmer weather kicks in and summer gets under way, the conditions on the roads will change and, for some learner drivers, this will present new challenges and experiences when driving. With more cars on the road as people embark on their ‘staycations’ and the freedom of long summer days, it is important to anticipate any issues that may arise.
So, with the conditions changing, we have put together a definitive guide for keeping safe on the roads this summer. Whether it’s avoiding falling victim to on-the-spot fines or ensuring you stay safe on the roads, here’s what you need to know.
Your trendy flip flops could cost you
With the increasing temperatures it’s likely that you’ll want your fashion choices to reflect the warmer weather. A fashion staple of summer, flip flops are ideal for the beach but less so for the car.
Rule 97 of the highway code states that before setting off you should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.
Flip flops could be considered as contravening this.
That means if you’re in an accident and the police see that you have flip flops on, you’re liable for a “driving without due care and attention” charge - which carries a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on your licence.
If it goes to court that rises to a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine, nine penalty points and potentially a driving ban.
So whether you’re heading to the beach, park or simply want to let your toes feel the breeze, ensure you have a suitable pair of footwear to wear whilst driving.
Hay fever sufferers beware
One in four people in the UK has hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) and with regular “pollen bombs” occurring throughout the summer months sufferers will feel the effects. But how many people check the side effects of what they are taking to ease symptoms - and whether they’re OK to drive?
The effects of hay fever:
- Watery/ itchy eyes
- Itchy throat and nose
The effects of some hay fever tablets
- Blurred vision
Certain antihistamines can therefore affect a driver’s abilities and could result in some trouble with the law.
Driving under the influence of any drug is illegal if it impairs your abilities, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. A conviction for drug-driving carries a minimum of a one-year driving ban and an unlimited fine, whilst the worst offences can carry a six-month jail sentence.
Always research what antihistamines you should be taking and always read the label. Study the side effects on the leaflet and take the recommended dose (typically one tablet) to ensure you’re safe to drive.
Changing your air conditioning filter can also be a great help for keeping pollen out of your car whilst also keeping you cool.
Feeling hot hot hot?
Warm weather is a welcome change from the usual wet, drizzly British weather, but many motorists could easily pick up fines and penalty points for failing to be prepared.
Road users can become disorientated in the heat which could result in them becoming uncomfortable and distracted behind the wheel.
Rule 237 of the highway code states that drivers should:
- Keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness
- Be aware that road surface may become soft or if it rains after a dry spell it may become slippery
These conditions could affect your steering and braking and if you become dazzled by bright sun you should slow down and if necessary, stop.
Additionally, inappropriate clothing could cost you. Despite their flattering look, maxi dresses and long skirts could get caught underneath car’s pedals and restrict drivers feet movement and affect the use of the pedals. Layering up could also become an issue, leaving you feeling too warm and too uncomfortable to drive or it could lead you to remove items of clothing behind the wheel.
Driving without due care and attention or careless driving could leave motorists with fines of up to £2,500, or £5,000 in extreme cases, with motorists even issued penalty points and a possible driving ban.
Parking away from direct sunlight will ensure the sun is not baking your car while you’re away and could help keep the interior cool for your next journey, and a simple windscreen sunshade will take the sting out of the heat of certain touch points like the dashboard, steering wheel and gearstick.
Drinking And Driving
Whether it’s a refreshing swig from a water bottle whilst driving, or one or two beers at a bbq, it’s important to be careful and responsible whilst driving/ before your journey.
It is illegal to drink any alcoholic beverage behind the wheel and the strict alcohol limits are impossible to calculate how many drinks they equal as it’s different for each person.
Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink could result in:
- 3 months’ imprisonment
- Up to £2,500 fine
- A possible driving ban
A conviction for drink-driving also means:
- Your car insurance costs will increase significantly
- If you drive for work, your employer will see your conviction on your license
- You may have trouble travelling to countries like the USA
Whilst drinking water, soft drinks or hot drinks behind the wheel don’t have the same repercussions, drivers can still be hit with a careless driving charge should it cause them to be distracted.
Driving without due care and attention, or careless driving, carries a £100 fine and up to three penalty points on your licence. But if you were to cause injury it could be nine points, a fine of up to £5,000 and potentially even a court-imposed driving ban.
Always ensure you are well hydrated and under the legal limit before embarking on your journey.
Against the Paw
In fact, driving with an unrestrained pet could cost you up to £5,000 in fines.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: "When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.
"A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."
Whilst disobeying the Highway Code doesn’t carry a direct penalty, you could be pulled over and fined for driving without proper control if your pet distracts you.
It could be stepped up to failing to drive with due care and attention which carries a maximum fine of £5,000 and nine penalty points if the case goes to court.
In extreme cases, the incident could also result in a driving ban and a compulsory re-test.
So if you’re driving with your pet, ensure they are secure in your vehicle and aren’t a distraction.
Summer Essentials To Keep In Your Car
Keeping a full bottle of water in your car is a must. In the event you get stuck somewhere, you do not want to risk getting dehydrated. We advise refilling your water whenever you can as you’ll never know when you might need it.
To avoid getting dazzled by the bright sun we recommend keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car. By wearing sunglasses you can protect your eyes from the sun and avoid having to squint for extended periods of time. However we do advise you to be cautious as they can affect your peripheral vision if the frames block your sight.
If you’re out and about all day you may not be keeping track of your phone battery or have access to a charger. We advise you to keep a charger in your car, ensuring that in the event of a breakdown you’ll have full charge to call for help. Just ensure you are not using your phone whilst you are driving.
It’s wise to keep a set of jump leads in your car all year round, but especially in the summer. Battery issues are common in the summer months due to increased stop-start activity, not just in traffic, but more short journeys when people are at home or at holiday destinations. It’s better to be safe than sorry and have a pair of cables to hand if you discover you have a flat battery.
Despite the long days you never know when or where you might break down. Having a torch (not just your phone) available to you can be a great asset if you ever need to change a tire or perform routine maintenance on the side of the road.
If you’re hoping to get behind the wheel of your parents’ car this summer why not check out our pay as you go car insurance. Our smart black box tech allows young drivers who have passed their test to pay by the mile for their insurance, on a parent’s car – simple. Ideal for days out with friends, trips to the beach or even weekends away, without the cost of everyday insurance.
Stay safe out there and remember to drive responsibly and carefully.