As you plan Christmas journeys to meet friends and family, Neil Wheatley, is advising you on driving on the motorway, in the dark, and with children on-board, to ensure your Christmas journeys home are as safe as possible.
Have A Safe Journey
Plan your journey ahead and have at least one break every two hours. If possible, share the driving. Make sure you have enough fuel and don’t be tempted to run with a low tank.
Some 17,000 people a year break down on the motorway because they run out of fuel, and most fatalities on a motorway involve a stationary vehicle.
Use the air conditioning and heating system to keep the temperature comfortable, the air fresh, and the windows from steaming up. If you are in an unfamiliar car make sure you know how to adjust them before you start a journey.
There may be some unlit stretches of motorway. It might sound obvious, but make sure both your headlights are working and are correctly adjusted, and your windows clean inside and out.
If you are too tired, don’t drive – it’s that simple. Likewise, don’t drink if you are driving later. If you are travelling into Scotland, remember the lower drink-drive limit.
When in traffic, don’t just watch the car in front of you. Try and look further up the queue so you have a better idea of what is going on in plenty of time – it makes the journey less stressful as well as safer.
If you break down, pull on to the hard shoulder. Call your emergency breakdown provider for help and wait outside of your car, ideally behind the crash barrier. Switch your hazard lights on.
Keep an eye on what the weather is doing so that you can adjust your driving to match any changes it makes – especially if the temperature is dropping. If your car has an outside temperature display on the dashboard take a periodic look at it
‘Are we there yet?’
If you are driving with children on board. Be patient. Sometimes children can drive parents potty but it is important to remain calm and keep them entertained. Playing games whilst travelling and keeping them occupied is always a recipe for success
Make sure all their tech is working before you set off. A flat battery on a phone can be major disaster for today’s connected kids
Pack for success. Make sure you have a food bag with goodies for the best behaved but avoid too much sugar. Fruit and water are best. Also carry wet wipes and spare clothes that are easy to access within the car.
Know your journey. The worst thing is being lost with a grumpy child in the back. Know the correct stop-off points so you know when you can take breaks, so the children can get out and stretch their legs
Children need regular stops – never go more than two hours without a stop. For very young babies too long in a car seat can be stressful, so factor this in when you plan your journey.
Set off early. Travelling long distances with little ones can be nightmare. If you set off early and take your time as opposed to rushing to your destination the journey will be miles smoother. But, remember driving when you would normally be asleep is a risk factor, so make sure you are fully awake by taking frequent breaks and sharing the driving.
Andy says: “A bored child in the back seat can be one of the biggest distractions when driving. A little planning and preparation can go a long way. Making sure your car has plenty of fuel and is fit for the journey gives you one less thing to worry about. If you prepare for the worst then safely arriving on time will give you that Christmas boost from day one. Well planned breaks can make the journey more enjoyable and often tired children travel better.”
Neil adds: “If you drive within your limits and those of your car’s, it is a sure recipe to a happy and stress-free yuletide journey.”
Merry Christmas from the team at Petrol News, wherever your journey takes you.