Driving in the heat: 9 tips for carefree car journeys

The summer vacations will soon be upon us again and many people decide to go on vacation by car. For motorists, this usually means traffic jams and long waiting times. Especially in high temperatures, car journeys can then often become torture. We give helpful tips for driving in the heat and show you what to look out for.

Table of contents:

1. never leave children and animals in a closed car

It happens again and again that children and animals are left behind in a heated car. In these cases, it is advisable to inform the police or fire department before taking action on the car yourself. At an outside temperature of 20 degrees, the temperature in the car rises to 24 degrees within 5 minutes, after 30 minutes it is already 36 degrees and after more than an hour the temperature in the car has risen to over 46 degrees. Especially in the summer, temperatures can exceed 30 degrees Celsius. At an outside temperature of 32 degrees, the temperature inside the car rises to 58 degrees after 60 minutes. Therefore, never leave children and animals in closed vehicles. Fainting, circulatory collapse and death can be the result.

Heat buildup in the car

source: local fire department schuettorf

If it is an acute emergency situation, you can take direct action even without the police or fire department. If the window of the vehicle has to be smashed, however, there should be enough witnesses on site who can confirm the emergency situation in order to avoid trouble with the car owner afterwards.

2. Prefer shady parking spaces

If possible, always park your car in the shade. When choosing a parking space, the position of the sun during the course of the day is sometimes a decisive factor. If the car is parked in the shade in the morning, it may be completely in the sun by midday. Then the temperatures in the car, as described above, rise drastically. If you can’t find another parking space, you can reduce the sun’s rays by placing sun protection tarpaulins on the windshield. Seats, especially children’s seats, can be protected from the sun’s rays by means of sunshades on the windows. It is also helpful to cover the seat with a cloth.

You should also not park on dry grass, because the heat under the car or from heated vehicle parts increases the risk of fire. If a fire is caused by your own fault, your motor vehicle liability insurance can refuse to pay benefits. Likewise, the fire department may bill you for the service.

3. Airing the car – beware of thieves

Who hasn’t experienced it: you want to go shopping quickly and leave the window open to ensure adequate ventilation of the vehicle?. If you are caught doing this, you could be fined 15 euros in accordance with ยง 14 of the road traffic regulations (stvo), because open windows and hoods offer thieves the opportunity to quickly and easily get hold of valuables that have been stowed in the car. However, if the window is only open a small crack, you do not usually have to expect a warning.

4. Do not fill up the car completely on very hot days

Since fuel expands in hot weather, it is advisable never to fill the tank completely in summer. For ca. 50 liters of fuel expand by about one liter at high temperatures. If this is the case, the tank can overflow, causing damage to the environment and the car itself, as the fuel also attacks the paintwork. In addition to environmental damage, fuel spillage can, in the worst case, also set the vehicle on fire.

5. The alternative to air conditioning: fans

In addition to the air conditioning system and the open window, fans can also provide pleasant ventilation in the vehicle. In principle, installation is allowed as long as it does not obstruct visibility. Before starting a car journey, the interior of the car should be cooled down. However, the temperature difference between the inside and outside temperature should not be too great, as this can lead to circulation problems that have a lasting effect on driving behavior and the ability to concentrate.

Excessive use of air conditioning or even cold drafts through open windows can lead to a stiff neck or other muscle discomfort, ear infections or colds. Circulatory problems can also result from the high temperature difference. A temperature difference of no more than eight degrees between inside and outside temperature is recommended.

There are specially designed mobile air conditioners for the car. These do their job with power from the cigarette lighter and can be attached to the windshield or dashboard. The integrated water tank is said to provide up to eight hours of cooling – depending on the model.

6. Stow bulky items safely

Particularly on the way to vacation, you have some things with you that are not usual for car trips. Inflatable boats and air mattresses take up a lot of space if they are not filled with air at the destination. When loading bulky items, make sure that they are securely stowed even during braking and evasive maneuvers and do not obstruct visibility. For example, the inflated air mattress may not even be tied down with a rope for a short distance or held in any way through the open side windows. If this is the case and the load is not secured correctly, fines of between 35 and 60 euros may be imposed.

As a general rule, certain items should not be left in the car when temperatures are high. This includes, in particular, electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops and power banks. These can quickly suffer heat damage from high temperatures, which is rarely covered by the warranty. Spray cans also do not belong in the car in summer. The gases they contain increase the risk of explosion. The same is true for highly carbonated beverages.

7. Choosing the right clothing and accessories

Generally, there are no regulations about what clothing must be worn during car trips. For your own safety, however, you should wear sturdy shoes even in summer. If you slip back and forth in your shoes, the risk of an accident due to unintentional braking or acceleration increases. If an accident occurs, the insurance company can impose joint liability. The same applies to the clothing itself – it should not hinder or disturb during the drive.

Sunglasses are standard equipment in the summer and are also useful for car trips. However, it should be borne in mind that the tint should not exceed 75 percent. Higher-tinted glasses, especially orange and red tones, make traffic signs and traffic lights harder to read. Another protection against the sun and UV radiation are tinted windows. However, these are only permitted on the rear window and the rear side windows. If you violate this rule, you can expect a fine of up to 90 euros and a point in the central traffic register.

Hats contribute to sun protection just as much as sunglasses do. These may also be worn while driving if visibility is not impaired. If you are driving a convertible, it is a good idea to wear a hat and sunglasses as well as sun protection. This is because the power of the sun is not directly perceptible in windy conditions.

8. Take sufficient breaks and drink

For longer journeys, it is advisable to take more breaks. In addition, sufficient liquid supply must be ensured. When it comes to drinks, it is advisable to avoid ice-cold beverages. Ice-cold drinks produce a counter-reaction of the body to compensate for the high temperature difference. This will result in additional fluid loss. Especially water, diluted juices or herbal teas offer cooling in high temperatures.

Always plan sufficient breaks for substantial eating and drinking, as these activities are particularly distracting for drivers during the journey. A sip of water in between is allowed and unproblematic.

9. Keeping an eye on road damage

Damage caused by high temperatures must also be taken into account during the journey itself. Ruts caused by soft, deformed tar are not uncommon in summer. On roads that are not paved with asphalt, the risk of the blow-up effect also increases. The concrete surface dissolves and cracks and holes appear in the road surface.

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