Driving home for Christmas
This Christmas, the RAC predicts that 1.25 million motorists will travel to spend the festive period with friends and family. Sadly we’re not all Chris Rea, and the upbeat melody of Driving home for Christmas probably isn’t how you will be feeling while sat in traffic, navigating bad weather conditions, as a voice in the back seat regularly pipes up with “Are we nearly there yet?”
And then there’s always the possibility that today just might be the day that your reliable car stops working. Indeed, breakdowns are more common in the winter, and while your vehicle may be fine… you could still be stranded if someone breaks down ahead of you, blocking the road.
So, if you are facing a journey to be reunited with loved ones this holiday season, or you’re about to embark on the commute home, here are a few tips to help make your trip as stress-free as possible:
Plan your route
A bit like Santa making his list and checking it twice, it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider your planned route. Fortunately, Highways England is implementing a “roadworks embargo” from 6am on Friday 22 December until 2 January – which is one less thing to worry about… but chances are you will encounter traffic at some point in your journey, (they haven’t labelled the 22nd ‘Frantic Friday’ for nothing!).
So before you head off, check to see if there’s a less congested option, (the RAC Route Planner can help with this) and then keep your radio tuned into travel alerts to help keep you moving in the right direction.
Check the weather forecast
It might be dry now, but how far do you have to travel? What is the weather like at your final destination? If the weather is already bad, be sure to clear your vehicle of any ice or snow before setting off, especially your windscreen, mirrors and lights – other drivers need to see you, as well as you being able to see them!
Pack your bags!
If you’re heading home for the holidays, the likelihood is your car will be crammed with your usual luggage plus presents for your family and friends, but just in case you have the misfortune of breaking down or getting stuck in snow, it’s worthwhile packing a few extra essentials to keep you safe, nourished, and warm before help arrives. For example:
- Torch and spare batteries
- Insulating gloves
- Hi-vis jacket
- A shovel – especially if you’re travelling through untreated country lanes.
- An ice scraper (or de-icer). Yes, it is a legal requirement to keep your front and rear windscreen clear of snow and ice BEFORE driving… but if you break down and the screen freezes over, a scraper will be faster at clearing it than a credit card!
- A warm drink in a flask, and some food (don’t rely on the shortbread biscuits packed for your granny!)
Ready for the off?
- Do your wipers wipe… and do a good job of it? Have your tyres got adequate tread? Is your screenwash topped up? Have you got enough fuel? It may sound like something your mother would say… but it’s better than “told you so” when you’re standing freezing at the side of the motorway because your car lost grip on some ice, or you’ve run out of petrol. Check now!
Once you start your journey, take it steady
Even if you drive like a pro, you’re sharing the road with people who may be less experienced, and less confident about driving in poor weather conditions. Slow down, keep your distance and avoid harsh braking on icy roads.
Wishing you safe and happy travels this festive season, from all at Symco Training.
Further information on winter driving can be found via the links below:
About Symco Training:
Symco Training Limited is a hands-on training organisation for the motor industry, offering IMI-accredited ‘real-world’ sales training programs based on techniques that have been tried and tested by major dealerships. For further information visit www.symcotraining.co.uk