The holiday season is an exceptionally busy time of year for motorists, with today (Friday 19 December) predicted to see as many as 20 million cars on UK roads.¹ Heavy traffic coupled with poor weather and limited hours of daylight can increase the odds of you having an accident. Here are some safe driving tips you can use to help improve your safety and that of everyone else on the roads.
Prepare your vehicle
Often accidents are caused by mechanical failures that could easily have been prevented if the right maintenance were performed ahead of time. To improve your safety, you should:
- Inspect your tyres for tread depth and obvious signs of damage
- Have a complete brake inspection performed by an engineer
- Check all lights and indicators and replace bulbs if needed
- Make sure your seatbelts are in good working order
- Replace windscreen wipers if they show signs of wear
Make sure you are ready
Your vehicle isn’t the only thing you should get ready, as you need to prepare yourself for traveling as well. In order to ensure you are as safe as possible, you should:
- Get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road
- Don’t drink any alcohol and avoid medications that make you drowsy
- Plan your route to avoid delays as much as possible
- Check the weather forecast and adjust your travel plans if needs be
It’s also important to plan extra time into your journey when traveling during the holidays, since there may be heavier traffic than normal. You may want to break your trip up into two or more days if it is going to be an especially long one. Take plenty of breaks; if you feel sleepy and need to keep driving, find a safe place to stop (never the hard shoulder of a motorway), drink some coffee or a caffeine drink then have a rest for 10 or 15 minutes while it kicks in.²
While on the road
The best way to make sure you arrive safely at your destination is to practice safe driving habits, beginning the moment you leave home. Always drive at a speed that is appropriate for the road and conditions, and allow ample space between yourself and other vehicles. Increase the distance and lower your speed if snow, ice or other winter hazards are present. You’ll need a greater distance to stop when roads are slippery, which means you will probably need to double the amount of space between yourself and other vehicles.
Avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents. For your safety, you should not talk on your phone while you are driving. If you must make a call, pull over to a safe place on the side of the road.
Never text while driving under any circumstances. Not only is it illegal, but it is also extremely dangerous. When traveling at 55 mph, your car can travel the length of a football field in under five seconds,³ which is the length of time it normally takes to send a simple text message. Those few seconds could be just long enough for the unexpected to happen.
Phone usage isn’t the only form of distracted driving that can be dangerous. Even simple tasks such as eating, drinking or smoking can be hazardous as well. So can adjusting the sound system or monitoring your navigation system. In order to stay safe, you should become extra diligent when it comes to keeping your eyes focused on the road at all times.
Keep these tips in mind to ensure your holiday travels are as safe as possible. All of them are equally important when it comes to keeping you and your passengers safe. Put safety first so that your Christmas memories will be happy ones you’ll fondly remember for years to come.
Jim Taylor is a passionate writer and small business co-owner from New York. Jim loves to write about photography, traffic safety and general business. Some advice has been written in cooperation with Burns Motor Co experts.