Stay safe on the roads this Christmas

‘Driving Home for Christmas’ is an iconic Christmas tune, filling us with nostalgia at the thought of heading home to loved ones. But with over 29 million car journeys taking place on the road during the Christmas week, you could end up feeling a bit frustrated instead of festive behind the wheel. Take a deep breath, and let us guide you through our tips for a safe and stress-free journey along the UK motorways this Christmas.

1: Choose when to travel

According to the RAC, the busiest times to travel around Christmas are:

  • 22nd December, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm
  • 24th December, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
  • 26th December, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

If you can, avoid travelling at these times. If you must travel during one of these periods, it can be worthwhile to make an early start or leave after the worst of the traffic has died down.

2: Take regular breaks

Whatever time of day you decide to travel, make sure you plan in regular stops and never drive if you’re feeling tired.

RoSPA (The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents) report that crashes caused by driver fatigue are about 50% more likely to be fatal or cause serious injury. These accidents tend to be high speed, with drivers that are less aware, less able to react and concentrate on driving safely.

3: Keep your distance

It may go without saying, but the faster you’re going, the longer it will take to stop. The RAC have a great guide for stopping distances at different speeds. For example, at 70mph, it would take 21 meters of ‘thinking distance’ and a further 75 metres of ‘breaking distance’. That’s over 20 car lengths to stop!

As a rule, always keep a minimum of 2 seconds between you and the car in front – and remember to increase this if you’re driving in bad weather.

4: Pay attention to signs on smart motorways

Smart Motorways are now in place throughout the UK to help manage the flow of traffic. If you’re driving on a smart motorway, pay attention to the signs - they’ll change if there is heavy traffic, a breakdown or an obstruction in the road.

If the speed limit is in a red ring, it’s a mandatory speed, so make sure you don’t go over the limit. Remember, you can now be fined up to 150% of your weekly salary if you’re caught speeding.

If the speed limit is in an amber flashing light, then this is an advised speed, usually due to heavy traffic or bad weather conditions. Additionally, look out for red crosses above lanes – smart motorways don’t have a hard shoulder, so if a car breaks down, that lane will be closed – indicated by a red cross.

5: Use lanes for overtaking properly.

There’s no such thing as a fast or slow lane on the motorway, so you should be in the left-hand lane unless you’re overtaking. Middle lane hogging is a cause of road rage, which can result in dangerous driving. Plus, it’s an offence - so move back into the left lane once you’ve overtaken.

If you’re moving from the outside lane, remember to look out for vehicles moving from the inside lane to the middle at the same time. Avoid ‘undertaking,’ or overtaking on the left, and weaving in and out of traffic to pick the ‘fastest’ lane.

Motorway driving can be stressful at this time of year, but keep a cool head and you’ll arrive at your destination in plenty of time and ready to enjoy the celebrations.