Somerset County Council’s road safety team have some helpful advice to keep you safe on the roads over the festive period.
The closer to Christmas it gets the busier everywhere becomes and as the roads are no exception, the chances are it’s going to take longer to get anywhere you need to go. The more time you give yourself to make your journey the safer and less stressful that journey will be so set off earlier than you usually would. Also try to factor in extra time to find somewhere to park when you reach your destination.
The festive period can be a hectic and tiring time which can cause stress and anxiety levels to soar. However, it’s important to try and stay calm as both anger and stress affect concentration and lead to rash decision making and an increase in the time it takes to react to a hazardous situation.
Winter weather conditions can make travelling on the roads over Christmas a more challenging affair so always check the weather report before setting off and if bad weather is forecast think about whether you need to make your journey. If you do find yourself driving/riding in bad weather make sure you adjust your speed to suit the road conditions and increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front.
If you’re going away over Christmas and 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.
- L (Lights): Clean all the lights and ensure they are working properly.
- O (Oil): Check the oil level – don’t wait until you see the oil pressure light to come on before topping up.
- W (Water): Check the coolant level and top up the windscreen washer fluid.
- 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.
Remember not to overload your vehicle as this can affect its ability to brake and handle safely, especially if the roads are wet or icy, and don’t leave loose objects on the parcel shelf as they can cause serious injuries if you’re forced to brake sharply.
Finally plan your journey in advance. It’s a fact that a planned journey is a safer journey; especially if you ensure you plan plenty of rest breaks into your journey time to avoid driver fatigue.
Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways said: “I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and hope that they keep both themselves and their loved ones safe by following these simple tips from the Council’s road safety team if you are out an about travelling this festive period.”
For more information on road safety in Somerset, please visit www.somersetroadsafety.org.