Adverse weather conditions, heavy traffic and even fellow motorists can all pose a danger to your driving when the festive Christmas season comes around.
So if you’re planning to visit the family over the holidays, do some last minute Christmas shopping or take the kids to see Santa, you’ll want to stay safe on the road – meaning you may have to be that extra bit vigilant.
Here are nine potential driving hazards that may be even more prevalent at this time of year.
It may look great on the Christmas cards, but snow is typically bad news for motorists. Even more so when so turns to ice – making the roads even more treacherous. The advice here is to not drive too slowly that you lose momentum but at a moderate speed so that you remain in control.
Furthermore, you should avoid high revs, stay in a higher gear for better control and brake and steers as smoothly as you can.
Remember, if the worst happens, then head back home or try and find a safe place to stop until conditions improve. Being stuck on the roadside is not a very appealing alternative, especially at Christmas time.
It goes without saying that you should always be able to see clearly out of your windscreen, windows and mirrors before setting off on your journey. This is not always a given, however, in freezing cold temperatures when windscreens and the like can ice over or be obstructed by snow. Make sure to purchase a scraper to keep in your car (preferably for all year round) to clear iced-up windows. Attempt to remove all snow from your car too – even that on the roof that may slip down and crack a windscreen. Avoid using hot water to de-ice your car as that can also lead to cracking glass.
Don’t risk leaving the house with only just enough fuel to get you to the nearest filling station. Not only can this put you at risk of you come across blocked roads and have to take detours, but there’s also the potential for fuel stations to shut earlier over the festive break.
A badly maintained vehicle
Don’t just jump in your car and expect it to start-up first time, especially if it’s been left out in the cold for days. Let the engine warm up thoroughly before embarking on a journey and don’t forget to check that all headlamps are clear of snow and ice. It’s also vital to remember things like screen wash and de-icer are topped up regularly before you take to the road.
With more police on the roads over the holiday period, you need to be sure your attentions levels are at their highest – and you keep a close eye on your speed! Being suddenly asked to stop or pull over for a routine check can be dangerous if you are not expecting it. So keep your eyes on the road ahead and always expect the unexpected.
As good drivers we should always be aware of pedestrians, but at Christmas this is even more important. Revellers spilling out onto busy streets after a night out with friends can be a serious danger, especially if they have consumed alcohol. You need to assume that people having a good time over the holidays won’t be giving too much thought to passing traffic, so the emphasis is on you to drive with extra care and attention in built-up areas.
When visiting friends and family to deliver gifts to loved ones, it’s an awful thought that you need to consider that a thief may not be far away. But sadly this is the case. So don’t be tempted to leave any expensive items on show in your parked vehicle as opportunist criminals will always be aware that cars could be laden with expensive items around this time of year.
You may be a careful considerate and law abiding motorist, but unfortunately that can’t be said for everyone that uses the roads. So remember, if the vehicle ahead is weaving or making sudden irrational movements or the driver is travelling at inconsistent speeds, give them plenty of room and stay well back – they could be intoxicated.
Moisture that gathers in cracks in the road expands when it freezes causing potholes to occur, almost overnight. And as vehicles drive over them and damage the structure of the road surface, the holes get bigger and bigger. Adverse weather conditions and a repeated cycle of wet and dry weather makes the situation much worse.
So be on your guard, especially when driving on badly lit roads, as hitting a pothole at speed can cause damage to your vehicle as well as accidents.