Brits are being urged to prepare for their Christmas drive home, with experts advising how motorists can travel safely this December.
Road safety experts at Road Angel have offered six tips for those driving home this Christmas to help them travel safely and keep their cars prepared for winter conditions.
Winter driving requires extra care and caution at all times because of potentially adverse conditions so it’s important to get vehicles ready for the cold and plan out a route home in advance.
Although it may ruin Christmas day plans, the Highway Code instructs motorists to stay safe and only drive in icy or snowy conditions if the journey is essential.
For those travelling in adverse conditions, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast beforehand and pack an emergency breakdown kit just in case.
Gary Digva, founder of Road Angel said: “Christmas is a time when lots of us are making long car journeys to get back and see our loved ones yet the roads at this time of year can be treacherous.
“We want to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a safe and happy Christmas celebration and there are several things drivers can do before setting off to make sure their journey goes as smoothly as possible.
“Planning a route out in advance and travelling early on a Saturday morning will help you get home for Christmas as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast and prepare an emergency breakdown kit, just in case.
“No one wants to break down at the best of times, never mind on Christmas Day – that’s why it’s important to prepare your car for the cold and drive safely with care and caution at all times – you’ll be sure to home for a wonderful Christmas time spent with loved ones.”
Driving home for Christmas – Road Angel’s winter car tips for motorists:
- Plan route in advance
One of the most important things you can do before travelling in winter is to plan the route home in advance. Although drivers may think they know where they’re going, it’s always best to double check directions to avoid driving around unknown roads in the dark and harsh weather. It’s also a good idea to plan route alternatives in case the original is not accessible because of the harsh weather.
- Try to avoid traffic
Remember that lots of other households will be driving home for Christmas, so it’s best to leave plenty of time in advance to avoid getting stuck in traffic and delays to Christmas parties and gatherings. If possible avoid travelling at rush-hour to steer away from the commuter traffic – the best time of the week to drive is early morning or evening on a Saturday.
- Get the car ready for the cold
Get the car ready for the cold weather of winter by checking the vehicle over before making long distances when visiting loved ones this Christmas. Check the tyre pressure, heating and oil, as well as making sure that the car battery doesn’t stall by turning on the car before setting off, and most importantly, ensure that all the bulbs on the car are working fully.
- Check the weather forecast
The weather has a massive impact on how motorists should drive over wintertime. Check the forecast before setting off to avoid driving in any adverse conditions – and be prepared to cancel or amend plans if the weather is too dangerous to drive in. The Highway Code says drivers should not travel in snowy and icy conditions unless the journey is essential, and before setting off drivers MUST be able to see. Clear all snow and ice from all of the windows and keep them demisted, ensure mirrors are clear, the number plate is visible and lights are fully functioning.
- Pack an emergency breakdown kit
Breaking down in the winter can be very dangerous, because of the extreme weather and darkness. It’s a good idea to pack an emergency breakdown kit in the car just in case any accidents happen. Pack a foil blanket, spare clothes and shoes to keep warm. Food, water and a phone charger are also good essentials to pack. A torch, jump leads, shovel and de-icer are again good emergency breakdown kit ideas for winter.
- Driving safely
There are also several driving tips motorists can follow to get back home safely for Christmas. The Highway Code recommends to avoid overtaking and keep further back from the car ahead as stopping distances can be up to 10 times longer in adverse conditions. When it’s icy on the roads drivers should use a high gear and slow speed, accelerating and braking gently and drive especially slow around bends when it’s much more likely to lose control of the car. Other tips include driving with care and caution at all times, and keeping updated on the latest travel and weather news.