keeping you on the road
Christmas is a busy time on the roads, as people make those long, and often unfamiliar journeys to visit far flung friends and family. Add in tough winter driving conditions and tired, or worse still, excitable children, and your festive drive can quickly turn into the nightmare before Christmas.
But there’s plenty you can do to prepare for your Christmas drive and hopefully avoid many of the pitfalls of the annual pilgrimage to Grandma’s remote retirement cottage.
You should always get your car ready for the winter as soon as the weather turns, but it is especially important if you are going to unfamiliar places, on long trips, with small children on board. You need to make sure that your car is up to the trip and that you have everything you need in case anything does go wrong.
Check your tyre tread, and remember to ensure you have the appropriate tyre pressure if you are carrying a carful of people, luggage and presents. Top up your washer bottle with winter screen wash and check your wiper blades. You also need to make sure you have enough fuel, as petrol stations can be hard to find in unfamiliar areas, especially on bank holidays.
Finally, make sure you carry a winter breakdown kit, including warm clothing, snacks, a charged mobile phone and a torch. The breakdown services may operate 365 days a year, including Christmas day, but it could take longer to reach you off the beaten track.
Plan your route well in advance and ask your passengers to keep checking as you go along, so that you can anticipate and avoid congestion. AA Roadwatch website and the RAC Traffic Plus app provide all the information you need.
As well as planning your route, plan regular stops, especially if you are not used to driving a long distance. Tiredness can be very dangerous when you are driving, especially in treacherous winter conditions. Some people choose to drive late at night or early in the morning for clearer roads and quieter kids. If you choose this option, allow yourself extra breaks, as your body clock will be struggling to keep you awake. Also consider the road conditions if travelling early or late, lower temperatures and temperature changes can affect road conditions at these times of day.
Sadly, Christmas parties create the potential for drink drivers on the road, so you should allow everyone that little extra space and time just to be sure. And don’t be tempted to drink and drive yourself; please also ensure ample time for any alcohol to leave your system the following day, it’s simply not worth it. The cost of a taxi is insignificant in comparison to the overall cost of Christmas, and it could save your licence or even yours or another person’s life.
Christmas also provides the opportunity for petty thefts from cars, so make sure that you keep any presents or other valuables out of sight when you leave your car, even if it is just for a short break at a service station.
With just a little planning, you can enjoy a safe and happy festive season on the roads.