It’s almost here; you can just about taste the warm air, fragrant flowers, and breezes from a sunny summer day. Especially after a winter as hard as this one; it keeps coming back like a song, with cold, snow and ice when the calendar decidedly says it’s spring. If we hang on, summer will eventually make its appearance. When it does, everybody and their brother will be out on the roads, driving to and from a vacation, going to and coming from the cabin, or just out enjoying Canada’s natural wonders.
Summer is the busiest driving time of the year, and consequently the most dangerous. Here are a few tips to keep you safe on the road as you enjoy the season.1) Car Maintenance
While good car maintenance is something we should all practice, in the summer it becomes more urgent. There are three components on your car especially vulnerable to summer’s heat, so you need to be proactive and keep them in good repair:a) Batteries
Your car battery weakens during the hot summer months. If your battery is one requiring water, keep a check on the amount. Low water will shorten the battery’s life, and it will choose the worst possible moment in the worst possible place to die. If your battery is self-maintaining, have it checked at your local auto shop and replace it if needed.b) Cooling system
This one falls into the ‘Duh!’ category, but we’ll mention it anyway, for those of us who are clueless about cars: your cooling system works overtime in the summer; keep water and coolant in the radiator, check the hoses for leaks and replace if necessary, have the water pump checked out by a mechanic and replace it if necessary as well. An overheated radiator will put you on the side of (if not in the middle of) a busy road on a hot day – not a good prospect.c) Tires
It’s important you keep your tires in good shape, whatever the season; worn tires will cause flats, and blowouts, as you drive on overcrowded roadways. A blowout is almost a guarantee of a wreck, possibly serious, and potentially fatal. Summertime exacerbates this situation, as the hot summer air causes the air in your tires to expand further than in cooler temperatures. If the sidewalls are worn, a blowout is likely. If your tires resemble my dad’s hairstyle – bald as a newborn baby – then you need to get new ones, ASAP. Bald tires lead to greater stopping distance, and hydroplaning on wet roads.2) Dehydration (yours)
Summer, by definition, is hot; depending on where in Canada you’re spending it, it can get really hot. Oh, not Death Valley, California hot, but hot enough for you to think about the consequences. One of these consequences is dehydration as you drive. Dehydration is not a good thing; surf the Web for all of its effects if you need to, but be aware it’s a thing to be avoided. Keep water handy as you drive; preferably not a commercial bottle of water – not because of the water, but because of the bottle. Reports link chemicals leaching from the plastic into the water when the bottle is overheated to numerous forms of cancer. So – get yourself a steel thermos-style bottle or cup, and keep it filled with pure water.3) Be Patient
Driving can be onerous at times, especially on a hot day. During summer, the roads are crowded with out-of-towners on vacation, and teenagers released from school. Each poses a traffic hazard, but for different reasons. Out-of-towners are unfamiliar with the roads in your area, and are likely to drive slowly while they figure out where they need to be going. They may also drive slow, just to sight-see. In either case, their attention is not fully on the road, so be aware of the traffic around you.