How can I stay safe behind the wheel this Christmas?

It’s easy to let habits slip over the festive period – here’s what you can do to stay safe.

Winter
Winter

Christmas is an important time to stay safe in the car. During the hustle and bustle of the festive period, it can be easy to let good habits slip, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re up to speed with the best ways to keep as safe as possible.

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist has issued a series of safe driving tips for those heading out on the roads this Christmas. Let’s take a look at them.

Don’t drink and drive

Friends in pub, driver holding back from drinking beer (Thinkstock/PA)
Friends in pub, driver holding back from drinking beer (Thinkstock/PA)

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If you’re going to be celebrating Christmas with a tipple this year, remember – drink OR drive. If you know you’re going to be having a drink then arrange alternative ways to get home – never be tempted to get behind the wheel afterwards.

Always wear a seatbelt

Seatbelt
(GEM Motoring Assist)

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It might be tempting to jump in a car and drive away without your seatbelt fastened, but it’s the single most effective way to save your life or reduce injuries in the event of an incident. It doesn’t matter if you’re only travelling a short distance – always buckle up.

Keep children safe and visible

Christmas is a particularly dark time of year, with short days and very long nights. It’s why it’s important to ensure children are visible if they’re walking or cycling down dark roads – so get plenty of reflective clothing and lights. If they’re in the car, make sure they’ve got their seatbelts on correctly or are seated in a car seat properly.

Plan ahead

Kia XCeed
A quick route check can make a big difference

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A little extra planning can make the difference when travelling this Christmas. It’s never nice to get caught in traffic or bad weather, so check the route you’ll be taking and, if you can, have a look at the weather reports too.

Take your time

You can easily fall into the trap of rushing around at Christmas, particularly if you’ve got errands to run. However, if you find yourself doing this, take a breath and remember that it’s always safer to give yourself plenty of time and space.

Don’t drive tired

Driving tired is particularly dangerous. When you’re fatigued, you take longer to react and this can prove problematic when out on the road. So if you feel tired, maybe postpone your trip or, if you’re on the move, pull over and rest.

Think about any medication you’re taking

You’re going to have to stay away from the driving seat if you’re taking medication that might make you drowsy. Combined with dark days, this can prove to be a very lethal combination, so it’s best to arrange for somebody else to drive. Drivers don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit behind the wheel.

Check your tyres before setting off

Checking tyres
(MotorEasy)

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Your tyres are the one point of contact between your car and the road, so it’s a good idea to give them a once-over before heading out. Even if your car is brimmed with safety assistance equipment, this can all be undone by having poor or worn tyres fitted.

Consider if an e-scooter is the right type of gift

Ducati scooter
The Ducati e-scooters take inspiration from the firm’s range of motorcycles

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Though e-scooters are widely available on the high street at the moment, you might want to double-check if they’re a suitable gift. Remember that under current rules, e-scooters aren’t legally allowed to be used on pavements or roads and can only be ridden on private land.

Take away distractions

Longer car journeys can often prove frustrating for all members of the family, but reducing the number of distractions can really help to keep the car safe. So make sure that you’ve got games or activities ready for kids while they’re on the move – leaving you to focus on the driving job in hand.

Watch out for kids trying out new bikes

Bicycles are always a popular gift at Christmas – and kids tend to head out to try them during the festive period. Be extra vigilant about children coming into the road on their new bikes and make sure you slow down properly in residential areas.

Keep the phone away

It might be that you’ve got a shiny new smartphone for Christmas. However, you need to leave it kept away when you’re driving as it’ll not only keep everyone safe but could be the difference between a serious fine and penalty points.

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