How You and Your Truck Can Get Comfortably Through The Summer

Added: 22 July 2019

Summer, Sun, Heat – 10 tips for safe driving in extreme heat!

Are you ready for the summer? This year, RoadStars is again sharing ten "hot" tips with you to allow you to enjoy relaxed and safe driving. On hot days, the German automobile association ADAC suggests you pay particular attention when checking the vehicle's technology and that you keep an eye on your own health too. At high temperatures, stress increases for both man and machine – and thus also the risk of an accident for all road users. We wish you a pleasant summer holiday period!

1. Concentration not routine!

Professional drivers are trained specialists behind the wheel, all others are, in the best case scenario, trained laymen. Even if it is sometimes difficult, professional drivers must, even in acutely stressful situations, maintain a cool head as they bear a huge responsible for their vehicle combinations of up to 40 tonnes in weight. It's a good time for a bit of old-school thinking: sometimes it's smarter to give way!

2. Avoid distraction.

Tablets, magazines and mobile phones should be in stowage compartments and not at the wheel!

3. You are what you eat!

Carbohydrates promote concentration; too heavy, too fatty and too large meals, however, will make you tired. Light foods such as fruit and small portions in general, as well as sufficient fluids are ideal in the event of extreme heat. Snacks between meals which contain carbohydrates and which are easy-to-digest include cereals with yoghurt, fruit mixed with fromage frais or buttermilk, muesli bars, dried fruits, nuts or a wholemeal roll spread with honey.

Heavy sweating in combination with too little fluid intake also quickly leads to fatigue, headaches or even lapses in concentration and an inability to react. Professional drivers should therefore drink three litres of fluids on hot days – before feeling thirsty. Water is great, but even better is a varied range of fruit and water mixes. Drinking water mixed with lemon juice or simply unsweetened tea over the course of the day refills our mineral reserves and helps avoid circulation problems. Upon waking up, instead of a hot cup of coffee, it's far better to drink water or a mix of water and fruit juice. Stay away from ice-cold drinks – they don't just lead to stomach complaints, but also only cool you down in the short term. In fact, they actually cause your body to sweat as it tries to compensate for the big difference in temperature.

4. Sleep plenty.

For professional drivers, the extreme temperatures in combination with heavy traffic are enormous strains on the body. Heat and poor quality of sleep have a negative effect on concentration and thus drastically increase the risk of an accident. Sufficient sleep (seven hours) is not only essential, it's irreplaceable.

Initial signs of drowsiness are burning eyes, regular blinking, shivering despite the temperature remaining constant, involuntary jerky head movements, drifting off in your thoughts. They signal that it's time for a break.

If you struggle to fall asleep, a daily bedtime ritual can help, for example going for a walk, reading and drinking milk with honey. As a result of this habitual behaviour, the body can wind down into sleep mode more easily. Anyone who is permanently tired, however, should get themselves checked over by a doctor.

5. Setting the air conditioning correctly.

Cooling the human body too much creates only a temporary benefit and, in the long term, can even lead to circulation problems. Air conditioning should be set to a maximum difference of six degrees compared with the outside temperature. A better approach than setting the air conditioning to an ice-cold setting is to ensure good air flow into the cab before starting the journey, i.e. by opening the windows.

Technology tip: there's nowhere where the principle of "small cause, big effect" applies more than with air conditioning. Anyone who doesn't use it for several months risks it breaking down completely. In which case, a new air conditioning compressor is often the only solution. That's why it's a good idea to switch the air conditioning on every now and again. It keeps the seals nice and supple and ensures that the system also works on the first hot day of the year.

6. A cool cab.

If parking or driving in direct sunlight is unavoidable, sun protection such as a heat-repelling window covering behind the windscreen is useful. Steer clear of wet cloths on windows – they only serve to increase the humidity and thus make it feel even more uncomfortable. Something which offers immediate beneficial effect are special body sprays which work according to the principle of cooling by evaporation, or a pre-cooled T-shirt fresh out of the fridge, letting cold water run on the lower arms or smearing cooling gel on your legs and putting your legs up during break times. During unloading, a light-coloured head-covering is recommended.

7. Watch out for warning signs from your body.

Particular attention should be paid if you experience headaches, dizziness, light-headedness or nausea. In such cases, pull over immediately, move into a shaded area, drink plenty of fluids and, in an emergency, seek medical attention.

8. It's better to check your tyres one too many times!

If the weather report announces a day with record temperatures, the correct tyre pressure is absolutely critical. If the thermometer climbs for an extended period above the 30 degrees Celsius mark, the temperature of the tarmac can rise to between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius. The tyres will soften, their contact surface will increase and they will wear more quickly.

Rule number 1 on hot days is therefore that the right tyre pressure is set and that the fill level is checked on cold tyres and the spare wheel at the latest every two weeks, suggests the ADAC TruckService. Tyres and the spare wheel should also regularly be checked for damage such as cuts caused by foreign objects.

9. In the event of a burst tyre – stay calm.

Despite taking precautionary measures, if a tyre blowout does occur, stay calm. A bursting tyre creates a loud, almost explosive bang, while parts of the tyre lash out like a whip and large quantities of smoke billow out from the wheel. To avoid an accident, driver's should quickly, yet carefully brake in a metered fashion. The initiation of a full brake application should be avoided as far as possible.

10. React appropriately to burning tyres.

If a tyre catches fire, the driver should, at their own discretion, continue to drive on dauntlessly until the burning tyre comes loose from the wheel rim. In the event of a burning front tyre, the ADAC TruckService recommends driving at walking pace.

If the driver stops immediately in the event of a burning tyre, the tyre will most probably also spread to the semitrailer or the tractor unit and the truck will completely burn out. Once the vehicle comes to a stop, secure it on the hard shoulder, uncouple the tractor unit and move it approximately 20 metres away from the semitrailer. Also: always alert the police, and provide them with details of the route being taken. In Germany, for example, the police has a system for alerting the fire service and they will also inform the motorway authorities of the incident.

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