Christmas is here and that means the UK’s roads will become extremely busy with people visiting family and friends over the festive period.
While it’s an exciting time of the year, drivers must be wary of the potential hazards that could await them over the coming weeks.
Road traffic accident claims tend to increase around Xmas and throughout winter due to the increase in the amount of people out and about coupled with the drastic changes in driving conditions when seasonal weather catches us unawares.
Here are the seven essential rules of winter driving…
Monitor the weather forecast
It’s vital to keep a close eye on the weather forecast during the winter months. The Met Office website is particularly helpful as it gives a regional breakdown of what the weather is likely to be up to a month in advance, which is ideal if you’re planning a long journey.
Plan your journey
A driver who knows exactly where they are going is more likely to concentrate properly when behind the wheel and not get distracted looking for road signs after getting lost. Buy or download a navigational device or use online resources like the AA route planner. Give yourself extra time as well and check traffic updates from the Highways Agency.
Check your car
Is your car ready for quick changes in the weather? Do you have even screenwash? Are your windscreen wipers clean? Do your tyres have enough tread? Have you got some de-icer or a scraper? Do you have good visibility levels out of every window? Do you need to visit a petrol station?
Know what to do in icy/snowy conditions
An icy road is a potential death trap for motorists. Reduce your speed and take your foot off the pedals if you skid. Try to steer out of any problems. Keep a shovel in your boot if snow is forecast as you may have to use it to dig yourself and other drivers free. If your wheels spin, ease off the accelerator and instead try and get clear by moving the wheels gently from side to side.
Be extra careful of other road users
Treacherous driving conditions will mean that other road users are also struggling to stay safe. Give cyclists extra room to manoeuvre and give the car in front plenty of room in case it stops unexpectedly.
Act sensibly if you break down
Don’t panic in the event of an accident or if your car breaks down, but still be mindful that you need act sensibly. Move your car to a safe spot and keep a safe distance from your vehicle. Put on any high-visibility clothing that you own, contact friends and family as well as call for roadside assistance. Use hazard lights.
Never drink and drive
The drinks usually flow at Xmas, but if you’re the designated driver then stick to non-alcoholic drinks. If you’ve had a heavy night and need to drive the following day, give yourself plenty of time to sober up. Never take risks where alcohol and driving are concerned.