20 July 2017
With summer storms forecast to coincide with the start of the school holidays, the AA is warning of potential traffic disruption over the next few days.
Schools in Scotland have already finished for summer with most in England and Wales breaking up on Friday or early next week. But the motoring organisation is urging drivers to plan ahead for summer holiday traffic and take care not to leave children or pets alone in the car during the hot weather.
The warning comes as the AA reveals it rescued on average five children locked in cars every day in 2016.
But families looking to embark on summer road trips could be met with disappointment as a risk of severe storms threatens to put a damp squib on the start of the holidays.
John Snowling, AA patrol of the year, says: “We often advise drivers to be prepared for winter driving but it’s just as important to be prepared in the summer, too.
“It’s vital to make sure that your car’s tyres are in good condition. Worn tyres are not only more likely to suffer a blow-out, especially in high temperatures, but in the event of a sharp summer downpour a worn tyre is likely to aquaplane, meaning a significantly increased stopping distance and loss of control.
"Tyre problems are now the number one reason for members to call the AA for help – and worryingly we find around a third of failed tyres are actually below the 1.6mm legal limit.
Tyre problems are now the number one reason for members to call the AA for help – and worryingly we find around a third of failed tyres are actually below the 1.6mm legal limit
“If any of your tyres have a tread depth of 2mm or less, you should fit new tyres before you embark on a long journey.”
Hot enough to melt the road
Figures compiled by AA technical experts show that 27°C is enough to increase the ground temperature to the point that it will soften tarmac, leading to ruts and cracks forming on road surfaces.
Inside a stationary car the temperatures can rise above 60˚C - hot enough to cook an egg, so children or animals should never be left in a car even for a short time. Even when the outside temperature begins to drop, the heat can still continue to increase inside the car for half an hour.
Shade and water are vitally important
The AA recommends using window blinds to help shield children and passengers from direct sun; and the use of sunglasses to reduce glare.
Edmund King OBE, AA President, said: “Children and pets are particularly vulnerable as they are less able to cope with high temperatures and heat-related illnesses such as dehydration. Take care not to accidentally – or deliberately even for a moment – leave people or pets alone in the car this summer, because anything can happen.
“Remember too that if your car breaks down, your air conditioning won’t work either so make sure you have plenty of drinking water in the car, especially if you have young or elderly family members with you.
“If possible get out of your car and into shade – and don’t stay in your car under any circumstances if you break down on a motorway’s hard shoulder. It’s a good idea to keep a couple of umbrellas in the car – useful for shade if it’s sunny as well as for rain.”
If possible get out of your car and into shade – and don’t stay in your car under any circumstances if you break down on a motorway’s hard shoulder. It’s a good idea to keep a couple of umbrellas in the car – useful for shade if it’s sunny as well as for rain.
Wet and windy
Unseasonably wet and windy conditions are likely to bring torrential downpours on Friday and into the weekend, at a time when the roads will be busiest. While the rain may only be short-lived, the AA is advising drivers to stay tuned to local radio for traffic and weather updates as heavy thunderstorms could cause localised flooding.
Snowling added: “Water can quickly run off the road, causing flash flooding. It only takes one incident to cause long tailbacks, so keep tuned to local traffic reports and reduce your speed as appropriate for the conditions. Never risk driving through flood water and if you find yourself aquaplaning, ease off the accelerator to slow down gently.”
Keep cool and carry on: Advice to help you beat the heat
John Snowling, AA patrol of the year, shares his top five tips to help motorists beat the heat this summer:
- Preparation is key so before heading off on your summer holiday road trip, do the essential checks on your car.
Underlying issues with a car’s cooling system can easily cause problems so check your coolant level and operation of the cooling fan. If your car starts to overheat, the most effective way of temporarily dealing with it is to turn the heater up full and the air conditioning on.
High temperatures also aggravate any existing damage to your tyres, so check the pressures and condition before you leave.
- There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a traffic jam with the mercury rising, so check the traffic reports before you leave and avoid travelling at peak times to minimise the time spent sitting in a hot car. Plan an alternative route if necessary, allowing extra time in case of delays – particularly if you have a ferry or plane to catch – and make sure you have sufficient fuel so that you can keep the air conditioning running.
- Pack plenty of supplies to keep everyone well hydrated – not forgetting water for any pets and at least a litre per person – as well as any personal medication, entertainment to keep the kids occupied, a fully-charged mobile phone in case of emergency and sat-nav or a traditional atlas in case of any delays or diversions.
- Plan in regular stops to break up the journey – at least one every three hours – and remember, AA members get 20% off food and drink at Moto service stations. When you stop, never give the car keys to the kids to play with and don’t close all the doors unless you are sure you have the keys, as they can easily become locked in. Download the AA App for advice on parking, fuel prices, access to the AA’s route planner, where AA discounts apply and information on what your car’s warning lights mean.
- Where possible, avoid travelling during the heat of the day. Use sun blinds on the windows or, if you don’t have air conditioning, open a window a little to allow a cool breeze to circulate in the vehicle.