Summer driving may sound great in theory; meandering along open roads with blue skies overhead and a nice cool car thanks to the air-conditioning.

But very often the reality doesn't match up with huge traffic jams and hot, impatient drivers creating bedlam on the roads.

Hazardous driving conditions are something most people associate with winter when surfaces are wet or even icy. However, the summertime also brings a number of hazards that drivers need to be aware of; here are just a few of the most important.

 

Crowded roads
Most people assume that it's easier to drive during pleasant weather so the sun brings far more people onto the road. There are a greater number of people who are travelling further afield, either on day trips or holidays around the UK, which pumps up the volume of cars on the road even more.

But congested roads are much harder to drive on; cars travelling at speeds in closer proximity are at greater risk of an accident whilst frustrated drivers who are running late can make poor decisions.

It's not just the number of drivers on the roads which can make it so risky; it's the type of drivers too.

Occasional drivers who only get behind the wheel for holidays tend to be far more cautious, driving too slowly for the rest of the traffic and uncertain where to go can brake sharply as well. This can make driving more hazardous for other road users.

Research also shows that in the summer there are more teen drivers on the roads, after school and college shuts down for the holidays. Statistically teens are more likely to be involved in an accident, so a greater number on the road means an increased risk for everyone else too.

 

Heat
Warm weather increases the number of people wanting to get out and about but unfortunately cars don't tend to appreciate the increase in temperature.

Engines are far more likely to overheat, especially if you have your air-conditioning on at full blast too. Don't be tempted to keep driving in the hope that you'll reach your destination because you could put everyone at real risk. Pull over into a safe spot and give your engine the chance to cool down.

It's not just engines that suffer, heat plays havoc with tyres as well. The hotter temperature causes the air inside tyres to expand, which can result in unexpected blowouts, particularly on rubber which is well worn.

 

Cyclists
Although cars and cycles share the road all year round, the latter can be the cause of accidents particularly amongst drivers who don't spot them in time.

Warmer weather increases the number of bicycles on the road, and many of the cyclists may not be experienced in being on the road on two wheels, only going out for a ride in the summer.

This can result in a greater number of accidents, particularly with the glare from the sun impacting on the visibility for car drivers at junctions and other hotspots.

 

Baggage and towing
If you are going on holiday the chances are that your car will be loaded up with suitcases and other paraphernalia; you may even have bicycles strapped to the outside, or be towing a caravan, boat or trailer.

It's very easy to compromise on safety in a bid to satisfy everyone's holiday wish-list, packing everything into the car and in doing so, reducing your field of vision.

It's easy to dismiss the safety concerns; after all, what is likely to happen on one short journey if you are careful, right....?

Unfortunately, blocked mirrors, an increased weight load affecting braking distance, plus items which aren't secured tightly enough to roof-racks can all present significant driving hazards. It only takes a split second for your attention to be diverted by a flapping tarpaulin, or to miss another road-user because you can't see properly and the consequences could ruin your entire break.

 

Conclusion
Driving around in heavy sleet, snow and rain is no fun but it's important to recognise the different hazards which summertime presents. A change in the number of motorists and their behaviour on the road, an increased risk of problems occurring with your own vehicle and the dangers of carrying too much baggage are just some of the factors you should always take into account.