Ahhh, summer, sunshine and icecream. Yes, it's the school holidays. Keeping the kids entertained is no easy task. Perhaps a trip to the capital will help keep them entertained! So if you're driving to London between this summer, you're in for a surprise. Or not. But if you must travel in or around the capital is a tough business don't just pray and hope your journey will be hassle free.
There are two things that you can be sure of. There will be congestion, which will in turn increase the amount of fuel you have to use. The good news is I have advice to deal with both of these issues, or at least to mitigate the impact they'll have on your stress and fuel levels.
'Green' driving can easily improve your miles per gallon by up to 15 per cent. But there's no dark-art about it. Everyone can save fuel by making a few common-sense changes to their driving. The main principle of advanced driving – looking ahead to avoid having to stop so often – is also the key to green driving. Keep your vehicle moving as long as you can, even in traffic queues. Driving at a constant speed is far more fuel efficient than accelerating and braking. It is also safer because stopping increases the risk of being hit from behind.
Checking your vehicle regularly makes driving more efficient. In particular check the pressure of your tyres weekly, when they're cold. Wrongly inflated tyres have a big impact on fuel economy and they are also more vulnerable to damage. Keep the inside of the front and rear windscreens squeaky clean. This reduces the time you need to spend using the heating or air con to clear the screen.
Around town open your windows to cool the car down, but at high speeds, keep your windows closed to maintain the aerodynamics of the car. Use air-con to get the car to a comfortable temperature, and then turn it off.
Stick to the speed limit. This may seem a bit of a joke when you reach London, but when you're heading up the M25, or down the M1, cutting your speed from 85mph to 70mph, will save nearly half a litre of petrol every ten miles.
In traffic, people get frustrated and tired and will be inclined to behave unpredictably – watch out for people changing lanes suddenly as they try and get ahead of the traffic. Be wary and anticipate the actions of road users around you.
Stay calm. Being stuck in traffic is stressful, made even more so if you're running late. Allow a lot more time than you're likely to need for the journey. If you're going to be late and need to let somebody know, pull over into a safe place and avoid rushing the rest of the journey to make up time. Better late than never.
Finally, check the weather forecast before you travel, especially when making a long journey. Heavy rain always slows traffic down, and looking out of the window this morning there's no hint that it is likely to get any nicer in the near future. When you are on the road, listen out for traffic updates on the radio in case your route is affected, but never look for updates on your mobile phone or satnav while on the move.