Despite popular opinion, summertime is the most dangerous time of the year on our roads.
In the summer, when there are no obvious dangers, and the weather is fine and days brighter, we relax our guard.
Unfortunately, there is a spike in pedestrian, cyclist and motorcyclist casualties over the summer. The fine weather brings more people out and about. As drivers, we need to be on the lookout for them. Slow down and expect the unexpected.
All road users must also be aware of the dangers of alcohol during the summer months too – never ever drink and drive, and always be aware of the dangers of driving the next morning. Alcohol is a factor in 38% of fatal crashes.
At this time of year, there will also be an increase in the number of agricultural vehicles using the road. If stuck behind a tractor, be patient and don’t be tempted into any foolish or rash overtaking. Always be on the look-out for farm machinery leaving fields and farm yards.
Farmers need to be safety conscious too. If the traffic is building up behind, keep left where safe to allow others pass safely.
Drivers of agricultural vehicles are also reminded to be mindful of the following:
Wash down wheels regularly to avoid carrying mud and stones onto the public road.
Be particularly careful when transporting material such as silage, slurry, sand and gravel so that it does not spill on the road and pose a road safety risk.
Not to load/overload trailers so as to cause them to be unstable on the road.
Look out for low bridges, overhanging trees, overhead cables and uneven road surfaces which could cause the load to shift and possibly overturn.
The driving mirror must always provide an adequate view of the road and all agricultural vehicles must have proper working brakes on both tractor and trailer units. All agricultural vehicles must be fitted with lights, reflectors and indicators.
Large farming vehicles should consider using an escort vehicle to warn other road users and ensure that tractors are driven at an appropriate speed for the road conditions.
Is your vehicle summer-ready?
You should ensure your vehicle is maintained in a roadworthy condition with a full service being undertaken every 10,000 – 15,000 kilometres. There are also some things you can do yourself:
Lights - Make sure all your indicators and headlamps are clean and working.
Liquids - Make sure the water reservoir is up to the maximum mark. You may also need to top up your coolant and screen wash.
Oil - Check your dipstick and top up the oil if necessary. Look for signs of leakages on the ground under the car.
Electrics - Check your dashboard before and after starting the engine. Listen for a weak battery and replace if necessary.
Windscreen wipers - you should clean them regularly and replace them every 12 months.
Tyres - Check your tyre treads and pressure, including the spare. The minimum legal limit is 1.6mm.
Safety Assist - Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual and find out if it has any safety assist technology e.g. ABS.
Further information on being prepared for emergencies when taking to the road, including guidance on vehicle maintenance and repair, and vehicle safety checks can be found on the RSA website.