In recent weeks, Nashville reached a record-high temperature of 101 degrees, a temperature that had not been seen in more than 10 years. This year also has been the third-hottest summer on record in Nashville, preceded only by the summers of 1952 and 1914.
Staying hydrated and applying sunblock are fairly easy things to remember in the hot summer months, but two things many people overlook in extreme temperatures is how the heat can affect them while driving as well as damage their car.
For example, a dangerous combination in the summer is extreme heat and low tire pressure, which causes tire blowouts. Even temperatures of 90 degrees greatly increase the risk of tire blowouts for both vehicles and large trucks, as 10 degrees of increased temperature can equate to 1-2 pounds of tire pressure.
Here are more facts to know about how heat can affect you as a driver and your car, along with specific safety precautions you can take.
Extreme Heat & Drivers
A rather general but important reminder for drivers is to stay alert and diligent before they hit the road and while they are driving, much like they would in the winter months. Just like being aware of cold temperatures, precipitation, and the threat of slick roads are at the forefront of drivers’ minds, the same awareness is beneficial to their safety in the summer.
Remember, extreme temperatures can cause:
- Cracks and potholes in the road. Neither hitting or dodging a pothole in the road is ideal for drivers, unfortunately. Hitting a newly-formed pothole can damage your vehicle’s tires, wheels, and suspension, but swerving to avoid it can put you in danger of hitting another car. Staying alert of your surroundings and the road in the heat is your best bet to react safely.
- A breakdown. If your car overheats, breaks down, or pops a tire from the heat, you can be at-risk if you are stranded or waiting for help to arrive. For this reason, it is important to keep an emergency kit in your car, should you need it. Be sure to pack bottled water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, and a flashlight, for starters. A battery-powered phone charger could also be a lifesaver!
- Drivers to overheat. Driving in a hot car can be dangerous, and heat fatigue can cause confusion, dizziness, headaches, and nausea, which will affect your ability to drive safely. Keep yourself and your passengers cool by running the air conditioner at a comfortable temperature and keeping water on-hand.
- Death to anyone left in a parked car. Children and pets die in hot, unattended cars every year. Even a 70-degree day can cause a car’s internal temperature to reach up to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with cracked windows. Always be diligent to check your backseat, and never leave your children or pets in the car in the heat.
Extreme Heat & Your Car
The hotter the day, the harder your vehicle has to work. Thankfully, preventative maintenance and care can keep your car in good shape and ultimately protect you from the risks of car malfunctions and auto accidents caused by the heat.
Remember, extreme temperatures can cause:
- Hot seats and interiors. An obvious way the heat can indirectly affect drivers is by heating the seats (especially leather), steering wheel, and dashboards to temperatures that can burn the skin. Crack your car’s windows, park in the shade, and place towles on your seats to keep their temperature down, and consider using a cloth steering wheel cover in the summer months.
- Your car’s engine to overheat. A few ways to prevent this include parking your car in the shade, turning-down the air conditioning system and using the fresh air setting, and adding engine coolant. You should also keep an eye on your car’s temperature gauge on the dashboard; pull-over and turn-off the engine if the dial shows the engine is getting too hot.
- Quick-depletion of fluids. Monitoring your car’s fluids in the summer months is as important as getting your oil changed regularly. These include your car’s coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power-steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid. Maintaining all of these fluids will keep your vehicle running smoothly.
At Meyers Injury Law, we focus on catastrophic injuries involving car accidents, commercial vehicle accidents, general personal injury claims, and wrongful death. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.