- People make many more short trips during holidays, and complacency on the road can increase the possiblity of accidents
- Summer driving habits can be risky and lead to fines
- A car is no place for flip flops, swimsuits or bad posture
As summer approaches, safety experts at car manufacturer SEAT are warning of the potential dangers of being complacent during short trips in the car.
With temperatures rising, around 4.7 million Britons will be taking to the road*, either for a long cross-country journey or a quick trip to the beach, shopping centre or cinema. Many of these trips will take only a few minutes, but they can catch out drivers.
There are several typical summer driving habits which British motorists should avoid due to added risk and the possibility of receiving a fine. SEAT has produced several tips for a carefree summer on the road to minimise the chance of things going wrong.
No flip flops or swimsuits
Flip flops and swimsuits are of no use in the driving seat. Not only do flip flops diminish a driver's control of the pedals, they can also get stuck and hinder the driver's ability to react quickly and efficiently. Driving in flip flops or even barefoot can lead to a fine as this may limit freedom of movement. Drivers should always wear ergonomic footwear that fits properly. Furthermore, driving without a t-shirt (something 25% of drivers across Europe are guilty of according to the European Automobile Commission Foundation) can cause chafing from the seatbelt. Instead of driving topless, simply lower the temperature inside the vehicle - the SEAT Technical Centre recommends opening the doors and windows for a minute to ventilate the interior before turning on the air conditioning.
Drivers need the right fluids, too
Although not directly prohibited, eating and drinking while driving can cause distractions. However, it is also very important to stay hydrated when temperatures are soaring. A study made by Loughborough University and the European Hydration Institute shows that a dehydrated driver makes the same errors as one who has had 8 glasses of wine, so it is best to drink water before setting off and keep sipping at regular intervals while on the road. In addition, SEAT driving assistants such as its drowsiness detector analyse driver behaviour and recommend when to take a break if necessary.
Inadequate posture: Driving with your elbow out the window on hot days is typically seen on the road in warmer weather and should be avoided. Firstly, because it affects the ability to control the vehicle as both hands are not on the steering wheel, and secondly because of the risk of serious injury in the event of a collision. Another extremely risky posture, for the front seat passenger, is sitting with their feet on the dashboard. In the event of an accident, not only will the front airbag not retain the occupant correctly, but it can also potentially cause bodily harm.
Beach towel, sunglasses, sunscreen… driving licence
As well as your summer essentials, always make sure you carry your driving licence documents, espeically when driving abroad. In most European countries, driving without a licence will get you a fine.
Take your time to find the best parking spot
Parking close to the beach or park can sometimes be a nightmare, but there's no need to get stressed out. Once space has been found, more of SEAT's driving assistants such as Park Assist can help by automatically turning the steering wheel to ease into a space.
Summer hits and summer love
SEAT was the first carmaker in the world to integrate Shazam in its cars to identify any summer hit. But when you turn up the volume too much you risk not hearing other important sounds, such as an ambulance siren or another vehicle honking, which can potentially be extremely risky. And however romantic the song may be, don't let yourself get carried away. Kissing the front seat passenger is a distraction and in Spain it could even land you an 80 euro fine.