Driving Home for Christmas: Road Safety Advice

Posted by Simon R 10/12/2021 0 Comment(s)

Christmas is coming and with it the usual influx of December storms, snow, rain and gale-force winds. If you're planning the drive home for Christmas in cold weather, be aware of the dangers and be mindful of the precautions that drivers should exercise.

Make sure your car is winter-ready and pack a bag of essential items, as it could save your life. In the words of the famous Chris Rea song, there's a good chance you'll be "top to toe in tailbacks", as well as battling the elements.



Rea wrote the 1986 hit back in 1978, based on his own experiences. He needed to get home to Middlesbrough from Abbey Road Studios in London. His wife went to pick him up in her Austin Mini, as it was cheaper than train travel.

Stuck in heavy traffic, Rea noticed all the other drivers "looked so miserable" and it gave him the idea for the song. He started scribbling down the words during traffic jams. When he finally released the song, eight years later, it charted all over the world and has since become a Christmas staple.

Winter creates a lot of potential problems, and the last thing you want is for your car to break down in snow, leaving you stranded and freezing cold for hours.

Christmas traffic predictions

Motoring organisations predict one of the busiest days on the road will be Saturday 18th December, as this is when many people are planning to do their shopping. While they're not strictly driving HOME for Christmas, they will be driving to out-of-town shopping malls.

You can expect to find a lot of people hitting the road to go home for the festive period on 23rd December. Christmas Eve will likely see around four million cars making the trip home to loved ones.

Last year, more than 12 million cars were on the roads in Britain during the week before Christmas. This year, as long as no stricter Covid restrictions are imposed, motoring organisations predict a similar figure.

They suggest avoiding peak travel periods where possible. If you're about to set off on a long journey, check local and national weather reports and traffic conditions. If there's particular congestion on the roads you're about to use, try to delay your journey until it clears.

Keep tuning into traffic news on the radio as you drive. If you're going a long distance and you hear reports of snow, long traffic jams, or an accident up ahead, it's safer to break your journey up and book into a hotel overnight to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

What's the Christmas weather prediction?

Some people are crossing their fingers for a white Christmas. However, after a blustery month, the Met Office forecasts a relatively mild Christmas Day, with cold, wet and windy weather in the run-up to the big day.

Bad weather is expected to continue across the UK, with maybe some snow, until around a week before Christmas. There will be gales at times, with a temperature drop and some overnight frost and ice. However, it will start to warm up a little on 17th December.

Around Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, temperatures are set to be above normal for this time of year. However, by the time it warms up, it will be too late for all the motorists who have battled wind, rain and snow to drive home to loved ones.

Driving in Snow

© Jevanto Productions / Shutterstock.com

Preparing for a journey

If you absolutely must drive in bad weather, make sure you follow some simple steps.

Check all your lights are working and take a look at your tyres to make sure they have enough tread. Check the tyre pressure at a garage before setting off.

Make sure your wiper blades are doing their job and top up the oil, water and wiper fluid. If this is something you can't do yourself, pop your car into a garage the day before your journey for a quick health check.

It's also advisable to check your blowers are working properly to clear the windscreen and to keep you warm in the event you're stuck in traffic jams for long periods.

If your car has heated seats, make sure they're working, as they can be a bonus when driving in snow, particularly after dark, when the temperature may drop to below freezing.

What do I need to take with me?

Pack your fully charged mobile phone to use in case of an emergency. Take a car phone charger with you and make sure your phone's battery never loses its charge on the journey. You never know when you might get stuck, whether you have a breakdown, or a tyre blowout.

If you're not a member of a breakdown organisation, such as the AA or RAC, join a couple of days before your journey to ensure you have full cover when you set off.

Take a sat nav - if there are any diversions due to flooding, other adverse weather or traffic jams, don't risk wasting time and petrol getting lost.

Know when to use your fog lights: the RAC is reminding motorists that they are recommended when visibility is reduced to 100 metres.

Raising the alarm

When you're driving home for Christmas, make sure your family knows your route and estimated time of arrival. They can raise the alarm if you don't turn up on time and they can't get hold of you by phone, especially if you're driving through any remote rural areas.

Keep in touch with your loved ones while on the journey, telling them if you've had to change your plans or route due to bad weather or heavy traffic.

Above all, drive safely and don't speed, particularly if it's icy or foggy. There's an old saying that it's "better to arrive late in this world than early in the next" and this couldn't be more apt.

Have a great Christmas and don't let the weather put a dampener on your festive fun!