Festive Season Safety Tips for Motorists
Car driving at Christmas? Stay safe with our helpful hints and tips
Christmas isn't just the most wonderful time of the year, it's also the busiest time of the year on UK roads.
If you’re driving to see family or friends this festive season, then you’ll be one of millions of cars travelling to celebrate the big day with loved ones. Traffic is expected to increase during the Christmas period, so we’ve shared our top tips for festive season safety no matter what your journey...
Stay safe in poor weather conditions
Cast your mind back to December 2010, which was the coldest December in the UK since records began over 100 years ago. The Met Office confirmed an average temperature of -1°C for the month which caused havoc on Britain’s roads. So much so that at one point the M1 was completely closed and over 1,000 vehicles were stuck for 10 hours on the M8 - brr!
It goes without saying that if the weather worsens, this will affect conditions on the road. From excessive rain to scattered slippery leaves, icy patches or even snow, it’s important that you slow down to well below the usual speed limits.
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Don’t exceed the alcohol limit
We all know drink driving is a serious offence, but many of us assume that if we’ve enjoyed a tipple or two in the evening then we’ll be fine to drive the next morning. Wrong! Drink driving campaigns are all the more prominent over Christmas, but don’t be fooled into thinking the police won’t be working; you’re most likely to get pulled over and breath tested on Boxing Day morning - let that be a warning!
So what is the current drink and drive limit in the UK? Being ‘over the limit’ refers to the amount of alcohol detected in a person’s breath, blood or urine and is based on the following levels:
- 80 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
- 35 mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.
- 107 mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine.
The obvious solution is to not drink and drive at all, and instead rely on public transport or a taxi. If you are designated driver for the evening, then there are plenty of alcohol-free options; get in the festive spirit with a non-alcoholic mulled wine or candy cane mocktail - yum!
Regularly check your vehicle
This may sound obvious, but how much time do you dedicate to checking if your vehicle is safe to drive? Even the most basic of checks is important to make sure your car is coping during colder temperatures:
- Check your tyres to ensure they are at the correct pressure and still meet the minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.
- Check your brakes are in good working order and are fully responsive.
- Check your battery because excessive use of heating and lights can drain the power more quickly. Battery failure is the biggest cause of winter breakdowns!
- Check your lights are fully functioning and replace faulty bulbs straightaway.
- Check your engine oil meets the minimum level to reduce the risk of engine failure.
- Check your coolant levels and top up as needed.
Whilst many of these checks can be performed at home, we’d always recommend a winter service to ensure your car is in peak condition. Here at Wilsons Epsom, we provide manufacturer approved servicing and use genuine replacement parts to keep your car operating at its best for longer.
Be aware in busier traffic
You could be forgiven for assuming that the busiest day to drive at Christmas would be Christmas Eve, or even the 23rd December. However, according to a survey by the AA, it’s actually the 19th and 20th December which proves to be the busiest day for Christmas driving. It’s estimated that more than 17 million cars hit UK roads each of those days.
Remember that an increase in traffic on the roads means there’s a higher chance of accidents. Whether you’re tackling the motorway or driving through town, always make sure you are alert and aware to help reduce the risk of a collision - that’s why Santa takes his sleigh!
Carry essential supplies in your car
This may sound a little dramatic, but carrying some essential items in your car can prove rewarding if you happen to get stuck in traffic or suffer a breakdown. So what should you be carrying in your car just in case? At the very least you should travel with the following items:
Spare coat or blanket, drinks and snacks, first aid kit, spare fuel can, high-vis vest, ice scraper, mobile phone charger, loose change, spare tyre, sunglasses, torch, and a warning triangle. Stay equipped and you’ll never have to worry when driving!
Monitor tiredness and stress levels
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at just how many people drive when they’re extremely tired or stressed. Christmas is very much considered a time to spend with loved ones, when many of us will need to drive long distances in order to spend time together. But just how many miles will we drive over the Christmas break? Research conducted by Accident Advice Helpline, shows that UK families drive an average of 302 miles visiting family and friends over Christmas.
December can be a busy time of year with work and social commitments, so it’s all too easy to try and push through tiredness and stress. Burning the candle at both ends can be extremely dangerous when you're in charge of a vehicle; did you know that almost 17% of accidents on major roads are caused by fatigue? Help yourself and other motorists by delaying your journey, or stopping for a rest every so often.
Keep up the Christmas spirit!
If you’re quite literally driving home for Christmas, then festive cheer can make the difference between a long and boring journey, or a fun one that flies by. There’s nothing better than a bit of Christmas car-eoke, so get your best festive playlist at the ready!
Whilst the most obvious song of choice to drive to during the festive season would be ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea, it doesn’t actually make the top spot according to comparison site Uswitch. They surveyed over 1,000 Brits to discover their number one snowy singalong, and the winner was ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Surprised? So are we!
Overall, make sure you drive responsibly this Christmas and check out our Road Safety Week blog on how to become a road safety hero.