How to not drive yourself mad this summer
It's that time of year again - the time we've been looking forward to for what feels like 3 years. The time when I start a post with "IT'S HOT" like you didn't know.
Summer driving is a delight in the films. You're lounging back against the cream leather of your cheeky sportster, zooming through the countryside under dappling trees. You're probably wearing a white suit and huge sunglasses. You smell like daisies. Summer.
But that's not how it is in real life, is it? No. Try legs melting into your seat as you sit in traffic with broken air conditioning and a sunburnt right arm. You CAN make the best of a bad job though, and you owe it to yourself to get a few things sorted and keep yourself from cracking this summer.
Get that air conditioner in tip-top nick
Your air conditioner needs servicing about every 2 years so if you've not had it looked at, like, EVER - now is the time. You'll love yourself for getting it sorted.
It's not just about the heat either: if you suffer from hayfever (amen), a faulty air conditioner is going to do nothing to lower pollen levels in your car. Think about all those beautiful fields trying to kill you with their spores. Do not spend your summer itchy-eyed and sweaty-backed. You deserve better.
That said, I did once play a great game with some friends of mine. We were driving to a lake (to chuck our heat-limp bodies in) and decided we would get maximum refreshment if we first cooked ourselves half to death. We rolled up the windows, turned the heating on full blast and pretended we were on safari.
I swear the lake actually started steaming as we submerged our lobster-pink bodies. That's how you have fun if you're from the country.
If you don't already have a spare key, get one
Oh, so carefree as you run down the beach/field/woodland path. Then - WHOOPS - your car keys slip unheard from your back pocket, tumbling elegantly through the dazzling sunlight and coming to rest in the shady entrance of a crab/rabbit/badger's home. Now you're screwed.
Race back in time to now, today, and you have the opportunity to prevent that panicked treasure hunt as darkness falls and you start to contemplate the desperate rescue call to your dad. And the lift back tomorrow. And the locksmith callout charge.
YOU CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE.
Protect your body with suncream and your bodywork with careful driving
Summer is the time when local councils and highway authorities try to get all their stuff done. You'll therefore encounter plenty of loose chippings and sticky tar on the roads. Mmmm.
Watch out for the extra roadworks and drive a bit below the recommended speed limit to make sure you don't gritblast your paintwork. Try to stay well back from the car in front too, as they might not be as careful as you and shower you with stones.
Oh - and if you're someone that burns as soon as someone turns the lights on, you're going to want to keep some decent suncream in the car with you. Trust me - there's nothing more uncomfortable (and distracting) than sitting in traffic while your right arm slowly frys. Keep a thin jacket in the car too to cover up if it gets really hot and a bottle of water to keep you feeling fresh.
Learn how to deal with tractors and cyclists
We must have had a super short winter because it feels like only yesterday I first sat, sweating, behind a flock of cyclists in a driving lesson, too scared to overtake. Now tractors are out in full force again too and I feel like I'm sharing the road with a herd of elephants.
Check you know what you're doing when it comes to passing cyclists safely and take note of these rules for dealing with tractors:
- Keep well back from a tractor - they don't have to have brake lights for daytime use, so you won't have warning if they stop or turn suddenly
- Tractors are sometimes longer than they look as they can have extra stuff on the front, so don't try a sneaky overtake unless you're SURE you have time.
- If you're stationary behind a tractor in traffic, let it pull away before you start moving so you have visibility of the road ahead - those guys are BIG