Holidays Are Coming: How To Drive Safely This Summer

Summer’s here, and it’s time for a well-deserved break. Whether you’re heading on a domestic adventure, or driving to France, there’s nothing like a sunny road trip to kick-start a vacation. So before you set out on your trip, whether it’s to the far end of the country or just a nearby campsite, plan how to minimise travel time, keep cool and stay safe when driving.

We’ve compiled lots of useful information which should help when the mercury rises, including insights from the experts.


Check your mirrors regularly, especially for people overtaking.


Stick to the left unless you’re overtaking – and always indicate in good time when doing so.

Drive to the conditions, taking extra care if it’s very bright.

Take note of all motorway signs, including temporary speed limits (these may vary in congested summer traffic).

Take regular breaks, especially when you get hot and bothered. It’s important to avoid tiredness, and road rage!

“Taking regular breaks is a simple way to keep safe when driving long distances this summer. Taking a ten-minute break every couple of hours at a service area, or even venturing into towns and villages to seek a coffee and a chance to stretch your legs, will help keep your mind on the task.“However, if you do feel sleepy the only way to beat it is to sleep, so find a safe place to stop take a short nap.” Jack Cousens, Head of Roads Policy at AA

What are smart motorways?

What are smart motorways? Simply put, they’re a stretch of motorway where things like traffic flow are managed using technology. Think variable speed limits, displayed on digital signs on overhead gantries and enforced by motorway speed cameras.

Plans for new ones were scrapped earlier this year, following safety concerns (including the lack of a hard shoulder on some stretches).

But if you’re worried about how to contend with smart motorways, just remember the following tips:

• Follow the speed limits shown on gantries

• Avoid driving on the hard shoulder (unless directed to do so), or a lane marked with a red ‘X’ (this means it’s closed)

• If your car breaks down or you need to stop for another reason, look to come off at the earliest motorway exit, or use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder – remember to use your warning/hazard lights as needed.

Honda’s full guide to driving on a smart motorway keeps things nice and simple.

Honda’s full guide to driving on a smart motorway

What are the best sunglasses for driving?

If you’re tempted to grab your shades when the sun gets up, you wouldn’t be the first driver to do so. But there are a few things to consider. 

Mr Mark Wilkins, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at OCL Vision, says: “There are different standards for what you should expect from sunglasses depending on where you are in the world. There are also a wide variety of designs out there for different shaped faces, so it is quite a personal decision. In general sunglasses should reduce [the] intensity of visible light so that the wearer feels comfortable. They should also have a polarising filter to deal with glare from horizontal surfaces such as roads, and [should] block UV light which is harmful to the eyes.”

Regardless, all sunglasses (with a fixed tint) should carry the CE mark and meet the European Standard BS EN 1836:2005 to be considered safe to drive in.

Is it safe to drive in a heatwave?

Driving in hot weather can be more difficult due to the impact of intense temperatures and glaring light. As we’ve just experienced the hottest June in the UK since records began, it’s possible things will be similarly scorching for the foreseeable future.

The good news is, however, that taking sensible precautions can help when the heat is on.


Plan a route

Spending more time than necessary at the wheel will make you tired.

You should work out the best route first. Maybe a little-known B-road will get you there quicker than a busy A-road or motorway?

There are excellent maps and guides provided by Traffic England, Traffic Scotland, Traffic Wales, and Traffic Watch NI.

Our Safety and Journey package, which comes via the My Honda+ app, allows you to send your destination to the car in advance, so it’s ready to go as soon as you take your seat. This is complimentary for a year with the Honda e and Honda Jazz ranges.

And, of course, you can use your Honda’s Garmin satellite navigation system to get you there as quickly as possible.

How much to pack

You could be doing hundreds of miles with a car full of kids, a boot full of luggage and maybe a roof rack carrying bikes or cases.

However, beware of overloading, as this can make your vehicle harder to handle and make stopping distances longer.

If you’re unsure how much weight to carry, check your Honda owner’s manual.

And never pile your gear up so high that you can’t use the rear-view mirror properly.

Sneezy riders

One in four people in the UK has hay fever – the pollen allergy causes itchy and watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and sometimes headaches, shortness of breath and coughing.

It might seem annoying and harmless, but the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation claims the effects of hay fever are as dangerous for drivers as a blood alcohol level of 0.5 grams per litre.

That’s the same as the drink-drive limit in Scotland and three-fifths of that for the rest of the UK.

“Hay fever can potentially affect your ability to drive,” says Dr Runa Ali, Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine and Allergy at King Edward VII’s Hospital. “Common symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose and congestion.

“These symptoms can be distracting, impair concentration, and even affect your vision, which can compromise your driving performance and safety.”

If you’re a hay fever sufferer, keeping your car windows shut and putting petroleum jelly around your mouth and nostrils to trap pollen are common methods.

Dr Ali recommends checking the pollen forecast for the day and time of your trip too.

“If the pollen count is high, consider taking preventive measures or even postponing non-essential trips.

“It is best to keep your car cleaned and hoovered regularly to minimise the amount of dust and pollen inside the car. Keep tissues or wipes within easy reach to quickly clean your hands or face if needed.

“If you experience severe hay fever symptoms while driving, it is safer to pull over in a safe place until you feel comfortable to continue driving.”

If your symptoms are severe enough to need medication, both Dr Ali and the NHS at large says to make sure your medications it do esno’t cause drowsiness, “as this could impair your driving ability”. Be sure to read the pack for details, or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Allergies, including hay fever, are on the rise – and Honda has spent years developing pollen filters to remove this unpleasant and dangerous impediment to drivers.


Try to wear shoes with thin soles that aren’t likely to make your feet too sweaty – deck shoes or pumps are ideal.

While they may be cooler, flip-flops and sandals are a no-no, as their soles could get trapped under the pedals.

Wearing them could also be a breach of Rule 97 of the Highway Code, which bans shoes and clothes that “prevent you using the controls in the correct manner”.

It’s not illegal to drive without shoes in the UK, but bare feet can slip on pedals – leading to a loss of control.


Comfort and coolness are key to avoiding overheating and drowsiness, so don’t put on anything too thick or restrictive.

Long dresses and baggy jeans are also not recommended in case they get stuck on the pedals or other controls.

Another tip is not to dry your hair too much before heading off, as this will help you stay cooler for longer.


A lack of fluids is a major cause of tiredness, potentially a killer on the roads, so drink plenty of water before starting a journey and when making stops. It’s illegal to do this while actually driving.

The main thing is to keep fluid levels topped up and water is the obvious choice. But a study at St Andrew’s University suggests skimmed milk might also be a good option.

Having something extra cold ready in the cool box, like an ice lolly, can also pep you up.

Don't forget your pet

Dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than we are. That makes keeping the car ventilated even more important.

You should also make frequent stops for them to drink in the shade, taking a large, chilled bottle of water to fill up their bowl.

If your dog really hates the heat, you could buy a cooling collar, which you can store in the fridge before you set off.

And please never, under any circumstances, leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day. The RSPCA says an outside temperature of 22C can heat up a cabin to a potentially deadly 47C within an hour.

The government says two-thirds of all road accidents in Great Britain in 2019 were caused by driver error...

... and 15% by impairment or distraction.

Here’s how to do your best to avoid problems.



Bright sunshine is one of the joys of summer, making the UK’s countryside, beaches and attractions look even more beautiful. But it can cause glare from the road, potentially blinding drivers and leading to crashes.

“The glare produced by these conditions can reduce your ability to see other users on the road, and see road signs or potential hazards,” notes Mark Wilkins. “In addition, the bright light can cause the drivers’ reaction time to be reduced.”

‘Dazzling sun’ contributed to 2,186 accidents in Great Britain in 2019, 25 of them fatal, according to official figures. That’s more than rain, sleet, snow, and fog combined.

The Highway Code tells drivers to pull over – safely, and not in a rushed way – if they’re startled by the light. A clean windscreen will help cut glare, which is made worse by dirt, oil, and debris.

“I would advise drivers to wear sunglasses when driving in bright conditions,” adds Mark Wilkins, “and try to be aware that glare can be a hazard, so take extra care.”

Keep your distance

The roads may be busier than normal this summer, but that’s no excuse not to keep your distance in case you need to brake suddenly.

The combined thinking and braking distance for a car travelling at 70mph is 96 metres (315 feet) – or about 24 car lengths. Even at 30mph it’s 23 metres (75 feet) – about six car lengths.

Honda SENSING – a suite of advanced safety features – helps drivers adjust to traffic, speed limits, distancing and prevents sudden acceleration when a stationary car, a pedestrian or an object gets in your way.

Be bike aware

Cycling has enjoyed something of a boom in the UK since coronavirus first struck in 2020 and many thousands of new enthusiasts will be out and about.

Always keep on the lookout for cyclists and give them space to ride and turn.

The same applies when parking. The charity Cycling UK advises drivers to open their doors slowly and carefully, while looking behind them carefully when about to get out.

Give pedestrians space

People out walking in the summer may be concentrating less on safety than in everyday life, so allow extra time and space for them to cross.

And give them a wide berth if they must walk on the road.

Don't upset the horses

It’s estimated that 3.5 million people in the UK ride horses, many of them on country roads.

The animals may get startled by traffic, so approach them slowly and ensure there’s at least half a car’s width between your car and the horse when you pass.

Then drive off slowly.

Take regular breaks

Holidays are meant to be about taking it easy and seeing places, so why not incorporate stops to get some refreshment and fresh air?

Take a 15-minute rest at least after every two hours behind the wheel.

If you feel drowsy, try to stop safely as soon as possible and not on the hard shoulder of the motorway.

“If the sun is low in the sky on a long journey, then this will cause glare and fatigue to affect the eyes, as they are working overtime to navigate these challenges,” says Mark Wilkins. “Consider sharing the driving with someone else and take regular breaks.”

Share the driving

Indeed, if there are two or more qualified drivers in your car, you can share the duties around to avoid fatigue.

But make sure everyone’s properly insured first.


If you’re stuck in a deluge, cut your speed.

Dry surfaces can get very slippery if they’re suddenly soaked. Stopping distances will more than double in wet conditions too, so leave an even bigger gap than usual between you and the car in front.

Put the lights on dipped beam when it rains and take your foot off the accelerator if you aquaplane.

Make sure the windows are shut and use the air conditioning system to stop the windscreen steaming up.


Just as you would when going to work or shopping, park in a sensible spot away from busy traffic, where you’re not blocking other cars or the emergency services.



It’s always worth checking your tyre pressure, which may need adjusting depending on how much you’re carrying.

If you’re concerned, you could try to weigh the stuff you’re taking on the scales at home – including yourselves – and add it all up.

What pressure should my tyres be?

Check your Honda owner’s manual or the sticker near the driver’s doorframe for information on appropriate pressure.

Also, look out for bulges on your tyres and ensure that the tread is at least 3mm deep – the minimum in law – so there’s adequate grip.

Windscreen wipers

Worn or dirty wipers smear the windscreen, obscuring your view of the road.

Take a soft cloth, wetted with some screen solution, and wipe it along the bottom of your wipers to clean them.

If they snag or feel brittle, it’s time to replace them, which your local Honda retailer can do quickly.

Also, keep water and windscreen fluid levels topped up to cut through the grime thrown up by the roads.


Driving with low levels of engine oil can cause huge damage to your engine, as the moving parts aren’t lubricated and overheat.

So don’t ignore the oil indicator and check your oil level manually before your holiday, using the dipstick.

Refer to your Honda owner’s manual for details if you’re unsure how to do this.


It might seem obvious to fill up your tank before leaving, but fuel problems are the ninth-most common reason for breakdowns, according to the AA.

They’re also the most easily avoided – and embarrassing. So, you should fill up at the petrol station ahead of long journeys.

Or if you have an electric car, such as the Honda e, get it fully charged before setting off.

You can monitor fuel and charge levels and keep across other maintenance issues using the My Honda+ app.


It’s compulsory to have any car that’s three years or more old checked out at least annually. But why not time it so that this happens just before your summer break – possibly your biggest road journey of the year?

That way you’ll have peace of mind that everything – oil, tyres, air con, wipers and all the rest – complies with the law and is ready to go.

We’ve put together a guide on how to get your Honda ready for its next MOT, complete with tips on avoiding the most common causes for failing the test.


Air con or windows down?

Heat saps energy and makes the driver lethargic. So what’s the best to keep the cabin as cool as possible?

While you’re on city streets, or on slow country roads, it’s fine to keep the windows down, providing you don’t have hay fever or a similar allergy.

But on faster roads this is inefficient, because of the drag it places on the car. Plus, air swirling quickly around the cabin can blow light items like sweet wrappers or newspapers around and block the driver’s view.

Keep the kids chilled

It’s very stressful when the young ones – bored and hot – kick off in the car. The AA offers these tips to keep them cool (and, hopefully, calm):

  • Freeze bottles of water to press against wrists and foreheads
  • Supply paper or hand-held fans
  • Bring plenty for them to drink

Keep cooling sprays and handheld misters in the fridge, filling them with chilled water just before leaving (this is especially good for cooling down babies).

Of course, it’s also important to make sure there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied by planning what to do on a long journey. That way, holiday journey distractions can be kept to a minimum.

Find shade

When you get to where you’re going, try to find some shade to park in if you can, especially near midday, when temperatures tend to hit their peak.

It might even be worth moving the car to a cooler spot as the day progresses and the angle of sunlight changes.

Leave the windows open for a bit when you get back to the car so that it’s not stuffy when you get in.

Cover the controls

The steering wheel, handbrake and gearstick can get very hot when the car’s locked. They should be sheltered from the sun as much as possible.

Try putting a towel or some clothes over the controls so they don’t heat up to unbearable levels and make driving difficult.

You should also cover leather seats, which can become uncomfortable and a distraction.


How can I block out the sun when driving?

Use your visor for stopping direct front-on sunlight getting in your eyes and keep your sunroof shut at the hottest parts of the day. Tinting your side windows helps cut the risk of sunburn, as does wearing clothing that covers your arms, neck, and legs. A hat can be useful too, just as it would outdoors.

Can I use winter tyres in summer?

Winter tyres are designed with higher rolling resistance, to deal with frost and ice, and work best at temperatures of 7C or below. But they have longer stopping distances in warm weather than summer tyres do, which adds to the chance of an accident.

In some countries it’s illegal to use winter tyres in summer, but not in the UK. However, manufacturers recommend changing your tyres twice a year – ahead of winter and summer – to ensure better fuel efficiency and safety.

Will you need different oil for summer?

No. It used to be recommended that thicker oil was needed to deal with hot weather to stop it breaking down, but technology has moved on. Multi-viscosity oil – which flows freely in outdoor temperatures ranging between -30C and 100C – will more than cover any conceivable situation.

Find out which oil works best with your Honda.

What is the worst time to drive in summer?

"The worst time to drive in the summer would be early or late in the day when the sun is low in the sky, as it is most likely to be in your field of vision and cause glare,” says Mark Wilkins.

For those with hay fever, meanwhile, Dr Ali argues that the best time to drive is typically after a heavy rain shower. “Rain helps to clear the air of pollen temporarily, reducing the immediate exposure. On the other hand, the worst time to drive is during warm, dry, and windy days when pollen levels are higher.”

As long as you look after your car and make sure you’re also in tip-top condition to drive, you should be fine and have a great summer holiday.