Summer Vehicle Safety
Schools almost out, and the season of long weekends and road trips is upon us. We’ve already covered how to stock your car, and where to go, so now we need to think of how to do that safely. Statistically, you are more likely to be involved in a car accident in the summer than in the winter, due to more drivers on the road and greater speeds. With some simple advice, staying safe on the roads can go a long way to making sure that your summer is enjoyable.
What To Remember For Summer Vehicle Safety
Ottawa is, to put it nicely, “blessed with vivid seasons”, meaning the summers are sticky hot and the winters are biting cold. The main reason that summer can be dangerous is because of the increase in drivers and increased speed. In winter, very few people are planning long road trips at highway speeds. That’s why one of the most crucial things to remember is to watch your speed and distractions. This is good advice for any time of year, but is easy to forget come the summer. The two big weather conditions you’ll see come summer are +40° temperatures and heavy rains. Both come with their own unique driving conditions.
Driving In The Rain
You’re probably thinking, “alright alright it’s just a little rain, I don’t need any advice for rain!”. In the right conditions, rain can be just as dangerous as snow, only without the added benefits of a nice cushy snowback to stop you if you go off road. If you notice the rain is really starting to pick up, turn on your headlights. Most vehicles will have automatic headlights that activate the daytime running lights, but you may need to activate your actual headlights. This isn’t so much for your sight as it is to make yourself more visible. If you have fog lights on your vehicle, turning them on can help you to see the road without creating a lot of glare. If you haven’t already done so, consider changing your wiper blades as well. They can be forgotten with the nice weather but you’ll soon be reminded of damaged blades when it starts to rain.
Increasing the distance between you and the car in front of you is a good idea as well, as brakes and traction can be affected by wet weather. One phenomenon that happens during wet weather is what’s known as hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is when your vehicles tires create a layer of water between them and the road, causing you to lose traction. Hydroplaning is responsible for a large amount of accidents each year, mainly because of the way people deal with hydroplaning. When you hydroplane, it will feel like your car is beginning to slide around on the road. Rather than hit brakes or accelerators, the key to exiting a hydroplaning situation is to simply not touch either pedal. Let off the gas and brake, look where you want to go, and steer there. It can be difficult, but it can save your life.
Ottawa summers are known for their heat, and as such, we tend to forget about heater during the summer months. One thing we don’t forget about, summer or winter, is a fogged up windshield. Many people will struggle with fogged windshields throughout the summer months. An easy way to fix a fogged windshield is to think of a can of Coke on a hot day. The outside of the can gets covered in water because of the hot air condensing on the cool can. If your window is fogging on the outside, then the inside is too cool, creating condensation. If the inside of your window is fogging, then the outside is cooler. You can use the vehicles defroster to prevent an interior fogged window, even in the summer!
Finally, tires can make all the difference. we can’t stress enough how important good rubber is on your wheels. Just as winter weather demands traction, so too does a rainy summer.
Driving In The Heat
When it’s not raining, the temperatures will quickly rise into the mid thirties and forties. Extreme heat can create a very different driving landscape than winter, with its own set of unique challenges and obstacles.
If you’re day tripping, you should consider investing in a sunshade. These large, foldable panels reflect heat away from the inside of your car when parked, and are available in a wide range of styles. If you chose to not use a sunshade, then keeping windows open a small amount can go a long way in preventing oven-like conditions in parked vehicles. If you have a moonroof, then leaving it open a small amount can provide great ventilation as well. A quick way to cool a heated car is to open the passenger window, and rapidly swing the drivers door open and closed. This motion sucks cooler air in via the swinging door and expels the hot vehicle air out the open window.
With rapidly rising heat, it can be possible for small amounts of gasoline to evaporate from your vehicle’s engine. When planning on when to refuel, try to do so at night or in the morning, to ensure that when temperatures hit their peak, you have enough fuel to make it through the day. Most parts of your car that can be affected by temperature, such as air in the tires and other fluid levels, should be checked before extreme heat hits in order to maintain safety. Underinflated tires have a higher risk of blowing out under extreme heat.
Well all know of the frustrations of a dead battery in winter, but in reality, summer heat can be even tougher on your battery. The heat speeds up the chemical reaction process in the battery, causing it to wear out quicker. It’s important to check your battery for any leaks or corrosion that may form, and have it replaced should it become damaged.
Enjoying The Sun
With the last bit of summer safety advice, you’re finally ready to enjoy the season in your vehicle. With all the great events happening in and around Ottawa this summer, reducing the amount of driving incidents and accidents is important. Enjoy the road!