Stay safe if you’re driving home for Christmas

Somerset County Council’s road safety team has some helpful advice to keep you safe on the roads over the festive period.

Winter weather conditions can make travelling at Christmas a hazardous affair so always check the weather report before setting off and adjust your driving to suit the road conditions.

If you have a long journey ahead of you do some simple maintenance checks before setting off. Think ‘FLOWERS’:

  • F (Fuel):Make sure you have enough for your journey. This may seem obvious but in 2015 traffic officers had to deal with 7,000 cases of vehicles running out of fuel.
  • L (Lights):Clean all the lights and ensure they are working properly. If your lights aren’t working correctly other drivers won’t know what manoeuvres you are planning on making and your visibility will be severely restricted at night or in bad weather.
  • O (Oil):Check the oil level. The correct level of oil prevents your vehicle’s engine from seizing up so don’t wait until you see the oil pressure light come on before topping up.
  • W (Water):Check the coolant level and top up the windscreen washer fluid. It’s important to keep your windscreen as clean and free from debris as possible to ensure you have good visibility and can clearly see other road users.
  • E (Electrics):Problems with the battery are one of the most common reasons for a breakdown so ensure yours is in good working order.
  • R (Rubber):Check tyres to ensure they have the correct pressures, tread depths and for signs of wear and tear. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm but we recommend getting tyres changed at a minimum tread depth of 3mm.
  • S (Self):Ask yourself: ‘Am I fit to drive?’ Illness, fatigue, alcohol, illegal drugs and legal medications can all affect your ability to drive safely.

Don’t overload your vehicle as this can affect its ability to brake and corner safely, especially if the roads are wet or icy. And beware of loose objects on the parcel shelf as they can become dangerous if you’re forced to brake sharply.

Plan your journey in advance, allow plenty of time and don’t forget your rest breaks.

There are plenty of excuses for having a quick drink over Christmas but there is no excuse for driving afterwards. Many people don’t realise that your ability to drive safely can be affected after only one drink – and the effects of alcohol can also be felt the morning after a night out drinking.  If you suspect someone of drink driving you can report it to Avon and Somerset Police by texting the word ‘drunk’ to 07400249101 with brief details of the car, location and driver.

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “It’s Christmas and none of us wants to have the festive season ruined by a breakdown or accident. Following this simple advice can help ensure you and your loved ones stay safe on the roads, meaning you can instead concentrate on the important things like having a very happy Christmas.”

For more information on road safety in Somerset, please visit www.somersetroadsafety.org. You can also find Somerset Road Safety on Facebook www.facebook.com/somersetroadsafety, Twitter www.twitter.com/SCC_RoadSafety, or Instagram www.instagram.com/somersetroadsafety.