If you'd permit me to get away with a bit of an overgeneralization, I'd like to propose that there are essentially two kinds of drivers on the road: those who love driving and those who don't. Some people really enjoy driving, taking to it like fish to water or dogs to Gravy Train. Others drive out of necessity and don't take any particular pleasure in the task itself.
Unfortunately, both kinds of drivers often find themselves either not enjoying driving like they normally do or disliking it more than usual during the summer months. For those who usually enjoy driving, this has a lot to do with the increased number of vacationers and tourists on the road, as well as the increase in traffic construction projects that comes with warmer weather. For those who dislike driving, the same factors are stressful but amplified in a different way.
The skilled, confident driver may dislike not being able to get where they need to go quickly and efficiently, while the nervous, hesitant driver might be overwhelmed by the influx of activity on the road. For both types, there are simple ways to ensure that summer driving is a less stressful, more fulfilling experience.
1. Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance
Yes, I typed that word three times. It's that important. The care and attention that you show your vehicle today could, without an ounce of exaggeration, save your life tomorrow. One needs only to explore an online auto mechanic discussion forum to see how often customers roll into auto shops with vehicles that are dangerously under-maintained. In the summer, that risk is even higher.
Whether you are a highly experienced driver or just starting out, you need to make sure that your oil and coolant levels are where they should be, that your brakes and tires are in good shape, and that all other regular maintenance items that need to be taken care of are resolved, especially before a long summer road trip.
What seems like an annoying maintenance cost is actually an investment in your safety and your vehicle's longevity. Before you get on the mean summer streets, make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape by taking it to a trusted mechanic for a complete inspection. If you are a trusted mechanic, more power to you, and consider helping a teen driver in your family with this stuff. It might save you from having to help them with a broken-down vehicle later.
2. Stay Calm Under Pressure
Heat-related metaphors are often used when discussing arguments and outbursts of anger, and for good reason; studies suggest a correlation between increased temperatures and aggressive behavior. For that reason, it's all the more important to keep your cool on the road when driving this summer.
Other drivers are frequently infuriating, there's no doubt about it. It can seem at times like a conspiracy, where every other driver is working together to make you late when you can least afford to be. But don't let the heat get to your head. You are ultimately responsible for your behavior on the road, and it's worth remembering that aggressive actions fuel further aggression.
If someone cuts you off and you start tailgating them, you are taking one negative action and doubling it, leading to who knows how many others. Ensure the buck stops with you when it comes to road rage, and decide to be the filter that prevents one driver's selfishness from rippling out to affect you, your passengers, and the other drivers around you.
3. Bring Everything You Need
Breaking down on the side of the road is no fun. Breaking down during the height of summer is even more unpleasant. That's why it's important to make sure you have everything you need before hitting the road, especially if you are going on a long road trip.
Bring plenty of water, and don't forget to take along some extra bottles when you bring a pet. Make sure you have extra coolant, just in case, and keep an extra quart or two of oil in your trunk as well. Ensure you have a tire pump, spare tire, and everything you need to change a tire if need be. It's also always a smart idea to bring emergency roadside flares; you never know when you might need them.
You've Got This
Whether you have NASCAR daydreams or you just want to make it from point A to point B without your heart racing, you have what it takes to enjoy safe, pleasant summer driving. Take it easy, mind your maintenance, and ensure that you are fully stocked for the road and you'll feel great driving this summer.