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Tips for carefree driving this summer.

Europe is preparing for the first heatwave of summer. Sunshine, free time and dozens of trips to the beach or swimming pool. Many of these take only a few minutes, but road safety experts warn of the dangers of these short trips, especially due to driver complacency. Several typical summer habits should be avoided because they are risky and could also lead to fines. Below are seven tips for carefree summer driving.

No flip flops or swimsuits

Typical beachwear is not suitable for driving. For example, not only do flip flops diminish a driver's control of the pedals, but they can also get stuck in them and hinder the ability to react. In most European countries they are not expressly prohibited, but driving with them on or even barefoot can lead to a fine as this may limit freedom of movement. Drivers should always wear ergonomic footwear that fits properly.

Furthermore, driving without a t-shirt (done by 25% of drivers according to the European Automobile Commission Foundation) can cause chafing from the seatbelt. To lower the temperature inside the vehicle, the SEAT Technical Centre recommends opening the doors and windows for a minute to ventilate the interior before turning on the air conditioning.

Match the number of passengers to the number of seats

Even though the trip may only be a few kilometres, carrying more people in the car than the number of seats is risky as it means that some will not have a seatbelt, and in the case children, a child restraint system.

Drivers need the right fluids, too

Summer habits can be risky and lead to fines.

Although not directly prohibited, eating and drinking while driving can cause distractions, but it is important to stay hydrated when temperatures are soaring. A study made by Loughborough University (UK) and the European Hydration Institute shows that a dehydrated driver makes the same errors as one who has had 8 glasses of wine, so it is best to drink water before setting off and at regular intervals. In addition, assistants such as the drowsiness detector analyse driver behaviour and recommend when to take a break if necessary.

Inadequate postures

Driving with your elbow out the window on hot days is typically seen on the road and should be avoided. In the first place because it affects the ability to control the vehicle as both hands are not on the steering wheel, and secondly because of the risk of serious injury in the event of a collision. Another extremely risky posture, in the case of the front seat passenger, is sitting with their feet on the dashboard. In the event of an accident, not only will the front airbag not retain the occupant correctly, but it can also potentially cause bodily harm.

Beach towel, sunglasses, sunscreen… driving licence

However light you like to travel, always make sure you carry your ID documents. In most European countries, driving without a licence will get you a fine.

Take your time to find the best parking spot

Parking close to the beach can sometimes be a nightmare, but try not to get flustered. Remember you can only honk the horn to prevent an accident, not as a display of irritation. Once you've found a spot, assistants such as the Park Assist help to ease into the space by automatically turning the steering wheel. And make sure to always park in designated areas. The fine for parking on the sand or in protected areas can be quite hefty.

Summer hits and summer love

SEAT is the first carmaker in the world to integrate Shazam in its cars to identify any summer hit. But when you turn up the volume too much you risk not hearing other important sounds, like an ambulance siren or another vehicle honking, which is punishable with a fine. And however romantic the song may be, don't let yourself get carried away. Kissing the front seat passenger is a distraction and in Spain it could land you an 80 euro fine.