Travelling over the festive period

Blog post posted on 05/12/22 |

Christmas is a time for family, food & drink and of course presents! Most of us will be travelling at some point over the festive period, on roads that will inevitably be busier than usual.

Careful planning and preparation can ensure your festive drive is a safe as possible. We all look forward to spending the festive season with loved ones but there are some simple things you can do to ensure you keep yourself, your family, and all other road users safe this December:

Dealing with Boxing Day traffic:

Traffic is notoriously bad on Boxing Day due to the shops reopening for the sales and visiting extended family or friends. Plan ahead if you’re making longer journeys, so you can avoid any potential delays and roadworks. Getting stuck in lengthy traffic jams quickly dampens the festive spirt, especially on darker evenings and even more so if you’re travelling with children.

As Christmas lands on a weekend this year, the Friday evening will be partially busy as everyone rushes to get to their relatives for the holidays. Consider driving the evening before, when the roads are likely to be quieter.

Don’t get distracted by the backseat gremlins:

Distractions can come in many forms – we’re all aware of the obvious ones like mobile phones, but other distractions can be subtle, difficult to recognise, and can quickly impair a drivers’ ability to properly respond to hazards.

Passengers can be a great accompaniment on a long journey, but don’t let them distract you! If you have some over excited children playing up in the back of the car, stop as soon as you safely can to try and calm them down. Perhaps give them their newest Christmas toys or colouring books to help keep them occupied during the journey, plus frequent stops for drinks, snacks and the toilet will help prevent problems.

None for the road:

A lot of people enjoy a tipple around the festive period, but don’t be hit with the £70,000 drink! IAM RoadSmart’s research team found that costs following a drink drive conviction could be as much as £70,000, if not higher if you consider fines, legal fees, higher car insurance premiums, alternative transport costs and potential loss of salary following conviction.

There is no fool-proof way of drinking alcohol and staying under the drink drive limit, as tolerances vary from person to person due to age, weight, gender, and metabolism. Remember, if you’ve been drinking the night before you may still not be sober enough to drive the next morning, but also, it’s not just driving while drunk you can get caught for. Being ‘in-charge’ of a vehicle may extend to having the keys, collecting items from the car, and is not limited to sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running.

Use this morning after calculator to estimate whether you may still be over the drink-drive limit -

Or to see the number of units and calories you have consumed, use this calculator -

The simplest way to stay safe and free from drinking driving convictions this Christmas is to have a designated driver and they refrain from drinking all together. If they decide otherwise, don’t take the risk, and grab a taxi/Uber home.

*Please note that everyone’s bodies process alcohol differently. Please don’t use the morning after calculator in the place of sensible caution – the only cure for alcohol impairment is TIME

Beware of a white Christmas:

The UK is on course to have a white Christmas for the first time in 12 years. This may be an exciting revelation for the little ones but can be a nightmare for those needing to drive and possibly commute over the Christmas period. Adverse weather is unpredictable; snow and ice make for slippery surfaces, and rain and darkening skies can cause issues with visibility.

To ensure you’re ready for the potentially snowy conditions, consider the following:

  • Always check the weather and road conditions before setting off, if you are using public transport links remember they may also be delayed.
  • If you are braving a motorcycle, remember to wrap up warm, the cold will affect your concentration.
  • Ensure your lights and wipers are working, you need to be able to see and be seen.
  • Never pour boiling water on the windscreen as the sudden temperature change may cause cracks. Instead, cover the glass overnight with an old sheet to prevent freezing, or invest in a windscreen cover.
  • Keep your vehicle’s washer bottle topped up with an even stronger concentration of anti-freeze screen wash.
  • You may need up to 10 times the distance to stop in icy conditions - increase your following distance to account for this.
  • If the conditions are already treacherous, it’s best to drive only if you absolutely must and stick to main roads which will have been gritted.

Make sure you don’t run out of Christmas spirit:

It is easy enough to get caught up in the magic of Christmas by rushing to get the kids in the car or double checking all the presents are packed to avoid disappointment! It may sound obvious, but it’s surprising the amount of people who will forget to check their vehicles condition, more specifically, if they even have enough fuel for the journey. Most may think this isn’t a big deal but forget that a fair majority of fuel stations may not be open over Christmas, potentially leaving you stranded with a boot full of presents, screaming kids and an unamused spouse – not an ideal start to Christmas.

Remembering to charge your electric vehicle is even more important as this takes significantly longer than a 5-minute fuel stop at a service station. The typical 60 kWh EV battery takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty to full on a 7kW charging point. However, this completely depends on the vehicle and charging method. Tesla’s supercharger network can provide 170 miles of charge in just 15 minutes, whereas, relying on a domestic three-pin plug charger could take up 24 hours.

Whichever means of transport, be sure to check your vehicles condition and fuel/charge level prior to departing on your journey.

Thanks for keeping our roads safe

As we’ve mentioned, Christmas is a magical time where get to spend much needed quality time with loved one, so we hope these hints and tips will help you stay safe and prepared during your travels.  

From all of us at IAM RoadSmart we wish you a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year.