Hot Weather Driving Poses Dangers to Virginia Motorists
Hampton Roads is in the grip of a heatwave with temperatures of over 100 degrees reported this month. We are familiar with the hazards faced by people who are outside. However, hot weather also poses dangers to Virginia motorists.
Extreme heat puts pressure on pertinent vehicle components, such as tires, making blowouts and accidents more likely. Extreme heat can also cause dangerous road conditions. Many drivers are unaware of the elevated risks they face when the mercury soars and fail to carry out basic checks. You should check the following before driving in hot weather.
It’s important to check your car tires regularly all year round. However, extreme temperatures make tires more susceptible to blowouts or other failures. Check the tire mounting and air pressure on your car, truck, or motorcycle. Inspect the tires every two hours or every 100 miles when you are driving in hot weather.
Air pressure increases with temperature. Therefore, drivers should pay close attention to their tires during hot weather. Still, you should never release air from your tires because the pressure will be too low when the temperature falls. If a tire is hot to touch it may blow out or catch fire. Remain stopped until the tire cools down.
- Engine coolant
Before you get on the road, make sure the engine cooling system has enough water and antifreeze as directed by the manufacturer’s specifications. Antifreeze regulates the engine’s temperature and is necessary for extreme heat as well as cold weather. Check the temperature gauge regularly as you drive. If the needle is moving steadily upwards, pull over. If the gauge is moving into the red area, you may have a leak or another problem that can cause your car to overheat. Stop driving as soon as possible and call for assistance.
You can check the coolant level by popping the hood. Most cars have transparent coolant containers that allow you to check the fluid level. Also, look on the ground under your vehicle for signs of leaks. Never open the cap of a hot coolant container or a radiator cap to top up fluids. Wait until you have stopped for a while and the system has cooled down. Make sure the engine is off when you replace the coolant and use gloves. Step back while pressure is released from the cooling system.
- Engine oil
The engine oil keeps your vehicle’s engine cool in hot weather as well as lubricates it. Make sure you have enough oil. Some commercial vehicles have oil temperatures gauges, while car owners can check their oil levels on a dipstick.
- Engine belts
Hot weather puts pressure on rubber components such as engine belts. You can check belt tightness by pressing on them. Loose belts will not turn the water pump leading to overheating and possible damage to expensive components such as the head gasket.
Ensure all coolant hoses are in good condition. A broken hose can lead to water loss, overheating, and possible engine fires.
- Air conditioning
Ensure your air conditioning system is properly maintained to keep you cool inside your car. This will protect you and your passengers from dangerous temperature levels that can cause conditions such as dehydration and heatstroke.
If you notice the air conditioning system is not working properly, the refrigerant level may be low. Take your car to a certified mechanic to make necessary repairs as soon as possible. Most newer cars contain cabin air filters. Make sure the filter is replaced regularly to ensure maximum airflow and cooling.
Understanding the Dangers of Driving in Extreme Heat
Hot weather poses dangers for Virginia motorists on the roads. Be aware of the hazards of traveling at high speeds. Excess speed leads to less reaction time and is a major cause of automobile wrecks. During hot weather, excess speed places additional pressure on tires and your engine, increasing the risk of failure, overheating, or blowouts.
You should be aware of the impact of relentless heat on the road surface. Hot weather can cause “bleeding tar,” a condition where the tar in the pavement rises to the surface. Spots of bleeding tar on the highway can be slippery and dangerous for drivers.
Additionally, drivers should be prepared for breakdowns in hot weather. Make sure your car contains bottled water, jumper cables, a working flashlight, a first aid kit, road flares, and emergency triangles. Occupants of cars can quickly dehydrate after breakdowns in sweltering temperatures. Children and older people are particularly vulnerable. It’s important to have a membership to a breakdown service such as AAA.
Car, truck, and motorcycle crashes often spike over the summer months when temperatures soar. Congestion and road rage are major factors in accidents in hot weather. If you or a family member suffers injuries in a crash due to the fault of another driver, please call our experienced car accident injury lawyers.