Christmas makes us all behave a bit differently. You may be filled with excitement at the prospect of a few days off with extended family, or you may be frantically rushing around, trying to bag that present for that someone…
It’s small wonder, then, that the festive season sees more crashes and other accidents, as well as sub-par road behaviour than any other time of year.
If you’re planning to do a lot of riding or driving over Christmas, follow these tips and you won’t be looking for legal help in the New Year.
(These tips are provided for our readers in the northern hemisphere.)
Don’t drink and ride/drive
If you know you’ll be drinking later, then either book a taxi or make sure there’s a designated driver. Plan ahead as much as you can so that you’re sharing a cab – don’t become a statistic just because you wanted to save some money.
Think about other road users
If you’re biking, make sure you’re clearly visible and think about how your riding affects drivers and other road users. If you’re using your car for a longer journey, or if you’re pulling a trailer, watch out for backlogs of traffic behind you and be ready to pull into a hard shoulder to let the frustrated motorists pass. This will keep everyone sweet and can help to avoid overtaking-related accidents.
Do not use your phone and drive
It’s been illegal since 2007, so you should know by now! What you may not know, though, is that driving while texting or talking on a mobile is implicated in around 300 road-deaths a year. Just don’t do it. The call or text can wait.
Book your vehicle in for a service
Whatever your vehicle is, make sure it’s up to making those long Christmas journeys. Get a winter service if you can, because it may just highlight a slight problem that you can sort out before it becomes a major or life-threatening one.
Maintain a distance
We all know that in wet or icy conditions your stopping distance increases. If you’re driving or riding in very cold or wet weather you should try to keep a distance of at least 10 car lengths away from the vehicle in front.
Try to resist the urge to overtake
It’s usually OK to overtake in dry, well-lit conditions. However, at Christmas time, there’s all the usual stressors as well as darker evenings and wetter roads. Try not to overtake on a regular, single-lane road and wait until you’re on a dual carriageway.
Tame your high beams
High beams are useful on dark roads, but not when they’re busy! Make sure your beams are dipped when you have oncoming vehicles, otherwise you may dazzle – or at least annoy – other drivers and possibly cause an accident.
Don’t drive if you’re tired
If you’re really tired, then avoid driving. If you have a long drive coming up, make sure you stay sober the night before and try to get a good night’s sleep. If it’s a very long journey, think about breaking it up with a stay in a hotel or at a friend’s house along the way.
Drive according to the conditions
If you’re driving in very icy conditions, then just slow down. Ignore the speed limits and stay well under them. This will keep you safer and it’ll remind other road users to do the same. You should also keep a keen eye out for drivers who aren’t playing safe.