Let’s face it, we Brits are pretty good at the blame game and nobody ‘cops’ more criticism than the management and staff working for airports, airlines, bus and railway operating companies and the myriad of other companies that provide all the products and services needed by travelers.
So as to even things up, here are few pointers in their defence.
Hot weather does buckle train lines
Rails are made of steel which expands as it heats up. If trains go too fast they risk buckling the track and while the air temperature might be 31C, the temperatures on the tracks can exceed 50C during heatwaves. Even just a few hours of above-average heat is enough to cause problems.
The best way to prevent buckling in hot conditions is for Network Rail to impose blanket speed restrictions, which prevent trains from slowing down and speeding up excessively. It may take you longer, but you will get there.
Hot weather can melt tarmac
Most roads laid with tarmac in the UK will start softening at 50C. With temperatures in the UK this week registering 30+C, that might not sound like much of a problem, but those temperatures are typically measured in the shade, and anything up to 2 metres above the ground. The temperature in direct sunlight on the ground can be much higher and dark road material can also absorb a lot of heat. So roads can reach a temperature of 50C and above at which point, they will start melting.
Workers don’t have to work in unreasonable temperatures
Remarkably, there is no legal maximum safe working temperature. The only requirement is that workplace temperatures in buildings should be ‘reasonable’. In the absence of a legal ruling, the TUC has recommended a maximum temperature of 27ºC for manual workers and 30ºC for sedentary workers.
Employers are not bound to adhere to these limits, but as excess heat can lead to drowsiness, or even worse, then you’d probably want your train, bus or tube drivers to take regular breaks and drink plenty of fluids.
Hot weather does make people more angry
Although people claim they are enjoying the current heat wave, scientific evidence suggests that people are actually far more aggressive and violent when the temperature rises. There are numerous theories for why this might happen.
The physiological theorists suggest it’s because ‘raised temperatures cause an increase in heart rate, testosterone, and other metabolic reactions that trigger the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, so people are more inclined to fight’.
The psychological theorists see it differently. They argue when people are experiencing discomfort – and the resultant stress – due to something they have no control over, it makes them angry.
Either way, irritable people are best to be avoided. So if you can work at home this week, perhaps you should.