Christmas driving dangers are plentiful and I'm not just talking about the weather. Here's our list of pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them.
Think about the time that you set off, particularly on Christmas Eve as the roads will be full of fellow travellers. Also, this year Christmas Eve falls on a Wednesday and Christmas Day on a Thursday, regular working days so you have to take into account that the roads will be very busy. A journey that normally takes 2 hours may take three times as long, so allow plenty of time and set out earlier or later. Check with the AA and RAC for advice before setting out.
Plan your journey well and schedule stops in that allow comfort breaks for you and your fellow passengers, especially in wintry weather so you can get hot food and drinks to keep you going. Make sure you and your passengers have snacks and drinks in the car anyway. Don't forget fluids for the car too!
Packing kids and cars into cars is troublesome enough but you also have to include presents and other stuff. Be security conscious and don't leave wrapped or unwrapped presents in cars in full view at any time. Keep them in the boot out of sight.
Christmas can be a very stressful time and adding in travelling issues can make you less patient and tolerant on the road. So take a deep breath and avoid getting into road rage altercations. Plan ahead and make sure that you have enough fuel and food as fuel stations and shops will be closed and running out of petrol or feeding hungry children will just create more arguments.
Drink driving is more prevalent at this time of year so watch out for any erratic drivers and stay clear. If you are worried about other drivers call the police to voice your concerns. Look at your own driving habits and make sure that you are being safe and sensible. Due to the increase in drink driving be aware that more police are monitoring the roads to catch drink drivers. So don't even have one for the road with your host before leaving.
Pedestrians are another danger zone. They also could be drunk and unpredictable and appear out of nowhere in the dark. Even sober pedestrians can be a danger, if they slip on ice, gritty or very wet road so make sure they have crossed the road safely before you move off.
Be aware of the impact of the weather on the roads and driving skills - yours and other people's. Heavy rain or snow are much more likely. Don't set out in heavy snow, wait till it subsides or stop in a safe place to see if conditions improve. Gritted roads can still be covered in snow again and grit salt can be a problem itself as temperatures change. Salt crystals restrict the amount of tyre that touches the road and reduces grip so be careful. Watch out for black ice which is invisible to the human eye, take your time, go slow and change your accelerating and braking to cope with the icy conditions.
Give your car some TLC and make sure that you let the engine warm up gently if it hasn't been used much over Christmas. Cold weather can make metal brittle so parts are vulnerable to breaking.
Our next newsletter will be full of advice on being prepared for driving in bad wintry weather, do look out for it.