December 21, 2021
Over the festive period, most of us spend a number of hours on the road, whether this is driving to visit relatives on Christmas day, doing the Christmas gift run around in the lead up or the other festive trips you might be making.
We know it’s a busy time of the year for everyone but it’s still important to make sure your car is as safe as possible for you and any passengers which is why we’ve put together this handy blog with our top tips for a quick read before Christmas travel.
If you want more generalised safety guidance then why not check out our driver guides safety section.
Top Five Christmas Driving Safety Tips
1. Don’t Overload the Car
While you might have a lot of gifts to carry or people to ferry around this Christmas it’s important to remember not to try and do too much in one trip. It’s better to be safe and have to take two trips or two cars than to have an accident because your car was overloaded.
You should only carry the legal number of passengers that your vehicle can take and all should be wearing an appropriate seatbelt. If there are more of you than the number of seats you should not try to squeeze extra passengers in, not only is this illegal it’s also dangerous. Additional passengers add weight, will not be able to use seatbelts correctly, and can be a distraction to the driver.
Additionally, if you are taking a pet with you then you should also make sure there is space for them to fit and be secured to avoid causing a hazard.
As well as passengers you should be careful not to overload the vehicle with presents, food and other cargo you might be transporting over Christmas.
Additional weight will not only put added strain on the vehicle but overfilling the boot or passenger space can reduce your visibility when it blocks the windows or prevents you from using the rear view and wing mirrors efficiently. As a general rule of thumb, we advise that you ensure your line of sight with the rear view and wing mirrors is clear and where possible your blind spots as well. If you do obscure any of these points then you should drive with extra caution when manoeuvring, especially at points where you would usually use the blocked view.
If you have a roof rack, roof box, or trailer you might consider using this to transport items if you have a particularly big present or a number of things to move. These can also be useful if you have a number of passengers and luggage to transport.
2. Take Breaks
If you’re travelling a particularly long distance to visit friends and family over Christmas then we recommend taking regular breaks. This will be especially important if you are travelling early in the morning or late in the evening when you’re more likely to be tired.
You should take the chance to safely have a drink and snack, use the bathroom, stretch your legs or take a nap if needed. Stopping to do so will also give your passengers a chance to walk around or use the bathroom if they need to as well.
If there is more than one of you in the vehicle who can drive then you can take it in turns, giving each other the chance to have a break when not driving.
3. Watch What You Eat
Don’t worry, we’re not telling you to reduce the number of mince pies or pigs in blankets you eat this Christmas. But if you’re driving you should keep an eye out for foods that have alcohol in and make sure not to eat too much of them.
We’re all sensible enough to know that drinking and then getting behind the wheel is dangerous but sometimes we forget that some of our favourite Christmas treats like Christmas cake have alcohol in them.
We recommend checking with your Christmas lunch cook to see what foods have alcohol added to them and how much, so you know your limits on what you can eat and how much of it you can have.
4. Keep to the Speed Limits
As tempting as it may be when faced with an empty road to pick up speed, especially if you’re running late, please don’t.
We recommend keeping to the speed limits whenever you’re driving even if there are no other cars around – fatal and life changing accidents can happen with just one vehicle.
Speed can be a major contributor to accidents as can significantly reduce the time you have to react to any potential hazards. We recently wrote about the number of accidents on UK roads over Christmas and the most dangerous areas for driving.
5. Look Out for Snow and Ice
Christmas is in the middle of winter which means you’re much more likely to see ice and even snow when heading out.
If you are driving early in the morning after a frost or late at night as one is setting then you should always make sure that all your windows and mirrors are completely clear of any ice and fully demisted before moving. If it is icy we also recommend checking your lights to ensure they are clear and ice isn’t reducing their visibility.
If there is ice or snow on your vehicle then it’s probably going to be on the roads so we advise taking it steady and avoiding going too fast on roads where it’s likely to be icy. Country roads especially are less likely to be gritted as frequently as major highways.
From all of us at Wessex Fleet we hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!