Preparation for Christmas journeys is essentialRoSPA advice will help drivers through the snow

22 December 2010

Man loading presents into boot of a car

Be prepared for your Christmas journey

RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, has called for anyone planning to travel on the snow-hit UK roads during the festive break to brush up on their winter driving tips. Drivers also need to be prepared for the difficult conditions.

The cold snap has caused havoc on UK roads since the first snowfall at the end of November. And with conditions expected to remain difficult during the Christmas holiday, it is imperative to make sure that you and your car are both capable for the journey ahead. 

Read the Which? advice pages for driving in snow

Check weather reports regularly

If the extreme winter weather continues, RoSPA says it is crucial that you monitor traffic reports on a regular basis.

VW in traffic jam in snow

Stay tuned to radio travel reports

Use a live weather updating website like BBC Weather or the Met Office before leaving on your journey and tune into local radio stations on your journey for weather forecasts.

If you are driving, try to be as smooth as possible when accelerating, braking and changing gear, reduce your speed accordingly and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

It is worth thinking about postponing driving over the Christmas break if the weather continues to be poor.

Read our tips for driving in snow and icy conditions

Be in a fit state to drive

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “As well as smooth driving techniques, safer winter driving is about good preparation - making sure you’re in a fit state to drive, that your vehicle is in good condition and that you’ve planned your journey.

Snow traffic jam

Snow and ice can cause traffic chaos

“It’s not just weather that can be a problem - it’s also important that drivers are aware of the danger of getting behind the wheel when they are tired.

“Tired drivers are much more likely to have an accident, and the crash is likely to be severe because a drowsy or sleeping driver does not usually brake or swerve before the impact.

“Despite the wintry conditions affecting much of the country, some people will be travelling long distances this Christmas. We encourage them to plan their journeys in advance.

“Consider the best time to drive, avoiding those times when you’re more likely to be tired or drowsy, like early mornings or after a large meal. Also, remember to plan in rest stops and allow time for adverse weather conditions.”

Finally, it is the time of year for celebrations and Christmas parties, so make sure your body is clear of alcohol from the previous evening before getting behind the wheel.

Should we have a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit? Discuss this at Which? Conversation

Man changing wheel in snow

Carry warm clothes in case you need to stop

Prepare your car

As well as ensuring you are fit to drive, you should use the same approach when it comes to your car.

Make sure your lights are all working and are clean. Ensure you have filled your windscreen washer bottle with a higher-concentrated screenwash so the water doesn’t freeze. If you are covering a lot of miles, a spare supply of windscreen fluid, water and a funnel may also come in handy.

Along with an extra supply of windscreen washer fluid, take a de-icing kit with you too, and a working torch.

And if the worst comes to worst and you do get stuck in snow, make sure you’re planned and packed for the worst case scenario. Carry a shovel, a spare pair of boots and a high-visibility jacket so you can dig yourself out of the snow if necessary. A surplus supply of warm clothes, food and drink are also worth taking, and make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and you take any in-car charging equipment with you.

Look at our tips for preparing your car for winter driving


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