Safe seasonal driving: Christmas

Planning to pack up the family for a car journey to visit relatives this Christmas? Travelling during the holiday season can be stressful—heavy traffic, icy surfaces, and drunk drivers are three of the biggest hazards that holiday drivers face in the run-up to Christmas. Keep your family safe by following these tips:

1) Plan out your journey.

Mapping out your route ahead of time will not only save you from arriving late to Christmas dinner, it will help you avoid icy or busy roadways as well. Do a little bit of research on alternative routes you can take to bypass the traffic, and make sure to check road conditions before you get in the car.

2) Perform car maintenance.

Especially if you’re headed on a longer journey, make sure your car is in top form before your travel. Have a mechanic inspect your engine, tyres, batteries, gauges, and fluid levels. The day of your trip, make sure that the car roof is clear of snow and ice and that you have a full tank of petrol before you depart.

3) Pack wisely.

Car journeys with the family can be long and tedious, especially if you’re travelling with small children. Pack plenty of activities to keep them entertained en route to grandmother’s house—sticker books, colouring books, digital music players, and educational video games are all great ways to keep them occupied without distracting the driver. And don’t forget to pack an emergency kit for your journey: snow chains, jumper cables, warning flares, shovels, blankets, water, snacks, and a fully charged mobile will be a big help if you break down along the way.

4) Be alert on the roadways.

Driving mistakes occur more frequently when you’re tired. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before the drive—even if you’re only the co-pilot! Leave the house with plenty of time to reach your final destination so that you won’t be in a big rush. Once you’re in the car, watch for black ice and deteriorating weather conditions. Always maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles. Remember that you can always take a break or turn back if you think the road conditions are too dangerous to continue driving.

5) Know how to deal with a breakdown or an accident.

If your car does break down or you get in an accident, remain calm and try to pull your car over to the side of the roadway. Make sure that everyone in the car is safe. Turn on the parking and hazard lights and call for help if your car has broken down. Those who have been in an accident should check for damages, exchange insurance information with the other driver, and file a police report. If the accident was not your fault or if one of your passengers was injured as a result of the collision, you may need to enlist the expertise of road accident lawyers later on.

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