Summer hazards for young drivers
For new drivers, the thought of motoring with your mates down to the beach in the sunshine is hugely exciting. But all driving carries some risks – and summertime excursions are no exception.
So if this is one of your first summer seasons as a fully-fledged driver, read on to discover the top 23 summer driving risks. While they apply to drivers of all ages, we believe they’re especially relevant for younger or less experienced motorists.
If you do find yourself on the wrong side of the law this summer, let Insurance Factory help you get back on the road safely and legally. Just contact us to discuss young convicted driver insurance.
If you learned to drive over the winter, it’s entirely possible you got your full licence without ever experiencing the effects of blinding sunlight through the windscreen.
1. Glare from sunshine
Glare can strike very suddenly: when the sun comes out from behind a cloud, or when you turn a corner. A wet road can amplify the effects, too.
And when the sun’s not in your eyes, that might mean it’s in the eyes of the drivers coming towards you.
So if it’s a bright day, or the sun is forecast, be aware of the risks: you might need to slow down suddenly. Alternatively, you could drive earlier or later in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky. And don’t forget those sunglasses.
We really can’t stress this enough: don’t drive after drinking excessive alcohol. Avoid drugs completely.
2. Drunk driving
In England and Wales, the limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. In Scotland and much of Europe, it’s just 50mg. What that actually means in terms of drinks varies from person to person, so it’s safest to avoid alcohol at all.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious motoring offence. In the UK, it will lead to an automatic driving ban (except in very rare circumstances), a hefty fine, and even possibly jail time.
Plus, once you’re legally clear to drive again, you’re likely to find it difficult to get insurance: many providers won’t cover you, and others will charge high premiums. We’ll search our panel of trusted providers for you to find young convicted driver insurance.
If you’re one of the first in your circle of friends to pass your test and get your own set of wheels, you’re sure to come under a certain amount of pressure to act as a taxi service!
3. Peer pressure
This can ramp up in the summer, as you and your pals want to head to barbecues and beaches.
By all means, enjoy your newfound freedom. But stand firm against any attempt to persuade you to act recklessly: squeezing in more passengers than your vehicle can carry, driving after drinking, or racing other cars.
You could cause an accident that results in harm to you, your passengers, or other road users. Even if you avoid that, you could end up with a motoring conviction, and might need to get young convicted driver insurance before you’re allowed back on the roads.
After a day of fun in the sun, you’ll be glad that you don’t have to wait for a bus to get you back home to bed.
But driving while tired can lead to you making some elementary errors – perhaps with serious consequences. Heat can tire you out, too. So avoid lengthy journeys while you’re tired, and take regular pit stops to freshen up.
If you’ve bought an old banger as your first motor, it may not have air conditioning. That can mean some pretty sticky rides in the height of the hot weather.
5. Flimsy footwear
So it might seem sensible to kick off your heavy shoes and operate the pedals in flip flops or even bare feet. But caution: can you really do so safely?
Rule 97 of the Highway Code states: “You should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.”
So think twice before trying to drive in beach shoes: it could hamper your attempts to control the clutch or brake, with potentially awful consequences. Keep a pair of trusty trainers in the boot of your vehicle, ready for a quick change before you settle into the driver’s seat.
Now, it might well be that you yourself are a sensible, considerate young motorist – after all, here you are, devoting some time to reading up about safe driving practice!
6. Young drivers on the road
But many young drivers still have a lot to learn when it comes to safe motoring. And at the end of each term, lots of them take to the roads.
So as you head home from an exciting year at college or university, keep a cool head about you and be mindful that other drivers may be equally new to the roads. New drivers should display a green P plate to alert you to their new driver status.
Take a look at the average car heading along the M5 to Cornwall or the M6 to the Lake District in August, and you’re likely to see a couple of children in the back.
7. Kids in cars
Now think back a few years to your own family holidays: did you and your siblings sit quietly on long journeys? Or did you quarrel, demand sweets, complain about boredom, and need urgent toilet breaks? We’ll wager that it was the latter.
Now that you’re a driver yourself, you know how important it is to focus while driving, and you probably have a lot more sympathy for your parents! So be aware that many of your fellow motorists on the UK roads are trying to stay calm while chaos reigns in the backseat.
Dangerous driving can occur at any time of year. But warmer days do seem to bring out a crazy side in some people!
8. Reckless drivers
Yes, we’ve probably all experienced the thrill of driving down a windy road with the sea glittering in the sunshine below. And we all want to maximise the best of the weather, rather than get stuck in traffic.
But that’s no excuse to put your foot to the floor or cut corners in your race to the beach. Take your time and enjoy the view. And beware of other drivers who’ve let the sun go to their heads.
You’re on a busy road, about to overtake, and you feel that familiar tickle in your nostrils… Hayfever has a habit of striking just when you don’t want it to. In the summer months, there are all sorts of pollen in the air that can set off your allergies.
So check pollen forecasts before you set off, and consider keeping your windows closed. Antihistamines can help you with hayfever – but make sure you choose a “non-drowsy” type, otherwise you might find yourself nodding off at the wheel.
Under-inflated tyres, overloaded cars, long journeys – these really are the ingredients for punctures. High temperatures can also worsen existing cracks or weaknesses in the rubber.
So avoid a blowout on the motorway, and a potentially serious accident, by checking your tyres before you leave.
Remember: it’s your responsibility to keep your car in a roadworthy condition, protecting yourself and other road users. If you drive a vehicle in a dangerous condition, you could be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving, and get three penalty points in your licence. If this happens to you, contact the Insurance Factory to arrange young convicted driver insurance.
Traffic jams are boring and frustrating, that goes without saying. But they can potentially be risky, too.
11. Traffic jams
For a start, they’re tiring, and you can’t just pull over to take a break. Then, once you’re finally free, you might be tempted to make up for lost time by speeding.
All of that can lead to you or other motorists making bad decisions, and driving carelessly. And that can mean accidents, penalty points, fines, and a call to the Insurance Factory to arrange young convicted driver insurance.
Instead of running those risks, consider avoiding the holiday crowds by travelling very early or late. If, despite your best efforts, you get caught in traffic, stay calm – it’s just one of those things, and not an excuse for reckless driving.
12. Running out of fuel/ battery
Traffic jams or poor planning can lead to another summertime driving risk: running out of power.
In diesel or petrol vehicles, it’s most likely to happen if you’re in an older car with a faulty fuel gauge, or if you’ve underestimated the distance to the next petrol station.
In electric vehicles, it’s more likely if you’re in an older model with a smaller battery range. And while infrastructure is improving all the time, you might still find that charging points are few and far between in remote areas.
If you realise you’re running very low, stay calm. If you’re on the motorway, get to the inside lane so you can pull over safely. If you’re in a petrol or diesel vehicle and you hear a spluttering sound, then you’re on the brink of running out: get onto the hard shoulder or into a layby as soon as it’s safe to do so.
If you run out of fuel while in traffic, you’ll need to put on your hazard lights and place your warning triangle behind your vehicle.
Once stopped, call for help: a friend, family member or your breakdown service if possible, or the emergency services if your vehicle is causing a road hazard or you’re in danger.
Running out of fuel or power can be a hair-raising experience for young drivers. If it poses a risk to others, or – worse – causes an accident, you could face penalties. You might need to seek young convicted driver insurance to get you back behind the wheel.
Of course, even if your car doesn’t run on a battery, it still has one to start the engine and power the electrics.
13. Battery drain
That can get drained by stop-start traffic, too many entertainment devices plugged in, or accidentally leaving lights on when you’ve stopped.
If your battery is old, get it checked before setting out on your travels.
Stop-start traffic, hills, towing a trailer – all of these can wreak havoc on your clutch, especially if you’re a new driver who rides the clutch now and again. Get it checked before your journey.
14. Clutch issues
As if traffic jams aren’t bad enough, being stuck in non-moving traffic can also cause your engine to overheat. So check your vehicle’s coolant and water levels before you set off, and top up if necessary.
Don’t forget to make sure that you, the driver, don’t overheat as well! It can make you light-headed, which is a serious safety issue when you’re in charge of a vehicle. So if your car has air conditioning, check it’s working before your trip. Otherwise, you’ll need to rely on air vents, open windows, and parking in the shade.
We tend to assume that summer days offer good visibility. But even when there’s not a cloud in the sky, you might find your vision obscured by dust, bugs and even seagull droppings. So make sure your screenwash is topped up and your wiper blades are in good condition before setting off on your travels.
16. Screenwash and wiper problems
Off on holiday with dogs? Don’t forget to keep them secure in your car.
17. Dogs in cars
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
If you don’t, you risk a fine and penalty points on your licence – or worse if the case goes to court. That can also lead to high insurance premiums, so contact us to arrange young convicted driver insurance.
And don’t forget about the dangers of leaving a dog unattended in a car on a warm day. Temperatures inside your vehicle can rise fast, and your pet could become dehydrated or get heat stroke.
It’s amazing how quickly your car can fill up with passengers and their belongings. By the time you’ve squeezed in camping equipment, a few rucksacks, and a couple of mates, your vehicle will be bursting at the seams.
But take care that it’s still safe to drive. Your vehicle manual will state its maximum laden weight: exceeding this makes your car harder to handle on the road, and increases stopping distances.
You also need to make sure that your vision is not obscured by objects. If it is, try repacking – or leaving some belongings at home.
Got a lot of equipment to take with you on your summer vacation? You could invest in a trailer – but do your research first.
19. Towing a trailer
Start by checking what weight of trailer you’re licensed to tow. Don’t just rely on the word of an older family member: the rules have changed, and people passing their tests recently don’t have the same entitlement as those who got their licences many years ago.
Then check your vehicle handbook to find out the maximum weight that it can tow.
Once you’ve got the right trailer, you need to pack it carefully so the weight is evenly distributed – otherwise, you’ll find it hard to manoeuvre safely on the roads. You’ll also need to ensure it’s secured properly to your vehicle.
Driving with a trailer can change the way your vehicle handles on the road. It’s best to practise on quieter roads to give yourself the confidence you’ll need to embark on a longer journey.
Being able to drive really does open up an exciting world of holiday opportunities for you! With a car, you can get to remote areas quickly – and take with you the equipment to explore them properly.
20. Securing bikes or surfboards
However, do check that you’ve got the right carriers or racks. If you’re carrying your bikes on the rear of your car, you’ll need to ensure that your number plate and lights are still visible.
Above all, fasten everything securely. Items falling from your roof rack onto your windscreen while you’re driving is a serious hazard. If your belongings fall into the path of other road users, you could well cause an accident.
Needless to say, the police will take a dim view, and you are likely to face hefty penalties. At Insurance Factory, we want to help you learn from your mistakes. We can arrange young convicted driver insurance to give you another chance.
We all know that holding a phone while driving is a big no no. But as of spring 2022, the law’s been tightened to include just about any activity that involves touching the screen of your device: taking photos, typing in a destination to the sat nav and so on.
21. Mobile phone usage
Police will be on the lookout, so keep your hands on the steering wheel. If you can, put your phone out of reach so you’re not tempted to check your messages. If you’re using your phone as a navigation aid, make sure you’ve inputted the destination before you set off; if you need to change it, pull over safely first.
Using a mobile phone while in charge of a car – including while stopped at traffic lights – can net you six penalty points and a £200 fine. Remember: if you accumulate six points or more on your licence in your first two years as a driver, you’ll need to retake your test. And if your mobile phone usage causes an accident, you could be looking at a far worse scenario.
We understand that mistakes do happen, and drivers can learn from them. If you need young convicted driver insurance, we won’t judge you: we’ll just search our panel of providers to find you deals that meet your requirements and budget.
A British summer is rarely about blazing sunshine for weeks on end. It’s far more likely that you’ll have to cope with at least occasional showers, and some heavy downpours or summer storms.
22. Sudden downpours
Remember to check your wipers before you set off on a journey. Slow down if conditions are poor, and remember that stopping distances are longer in the wet.
Finally, your new driving licence can be your passport to some international adventures over the summer holidays.
23. Driving abroad
But a road trip to the continent or even further afield shouldn’t be undertaken lightly – there’s a fair amount of preparation you need to do first.
You’ll need to consider adapting to driving on the right-hand side of the road, as is the case in most countries. You should check the licence and insurance requirements for each country, too – including those you might just pass through en route to your final destination.
Don’t forget to read up on driving regulations and the highway code for each country you’re visiting. Being stopped by police for a traffic infringement will certainly put the brakes on any holiday!
Finally, don’t worry too much – just enjoy yourself! Make this summer one of adventure. With your new driving licence, the world’s your oyster.
Get a quote from Insurance Factory today
We know how easy it is for young drivers to make simple errors that land them with a motoring conviction.
We want to help you get back behind the wheel of your vehicle safely and with as little hassle as possible. So we’ll listen to your circumstances, then search our panel of trusted providers to find young convicted driver insurance policies to suit your needs.
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