1. Keep cool and stay alert
Studies suggest that ambient temperatures above 22°C could cause drowsiness and dull drivers’ alertness, but nearly half (49 per cent) of European drivers do not turn on the air conditioning until the temperature has hit 28°C. One study has shown that at 27°C degrees driver reaction times are 22 per cent slower than at 21°C. So setting the car’s air conditioning to a comfortable and safe 21-22°C helps keep drivers cool, alert and responsive.
2. Clear the air
Although nearly half of European drivers (48 per cent) do not know it, car air conditioning systems remove up to 88% of the pollen and other allergens in the outside air. So turn on the air conditioning to help keep drivers sneeze- and headache-free.
3. See clearly
When driving at higher altitudes or in mountains, the outside temperature can rapidly drop, causing condensation to build up on the windscreen and impairing visibility. Although one in five (20 per cent) European drivers are not aware that turning on the air conditioning quickly and effectively removes moisture and condensation from the windscreen, allowing drivers to maintain optimum visibility of the road.
4. Take a break
While it is tempting to keep driving for long stretches in order to reach your destination more quickly, driver fatigue is a major risk factor, causing as many as one in every three road accidents. In addition to keeping the cabin temperature below 22°C to increase alertness, remember to take at least a five-minute break for every two hours of driving. If you feel tiredness is taking you over, then pull over and rest up for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Stretch your legs, arms and back
When you take a break, find a safe place to park your car and step outside to stretch completely. This helps maintain alertness and wards off fatigue.
6. Limit your speed
Driving at higher speeds requires greater concentration and causes drivers to tire more easily. Speeding is also a major cause of accidents. Limiting your speed is not only good for you, it’s good for the environment, too. Speeding does not pay off – not only is it illegal, it does not save that much time.
7. Stick to the rules
Knowing and respecting the rules of the road is a key factor in ensuring road safety. Many Europeans will be crossing national borders on their long holiday drives this summer. It is important that you are completely familiar with the rules of the road in the countries in which you are driving. They may be different from those at home.
8. Be equipped
In the unfortunate event of a roadside breakdown, it is important to remain highly visible to other drivers, so ensure you are equipped with a safety kit before you set out – in many cases it’s the law!
9. Do not use your phone
If you must make a call when driving, use a hands-free set. If you do not have one, pull over when it is safe to do so to make that call. And never text and drive!
10. And never, ever, drink and drive
It may go without saying, but it bears repeating – even if some countries allow a minimum blood-alcohol level, play it safe and never, ever, drink and drive.
- There's more useful advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.