By: Lisa Harper
If you’re heading out on a long journey to spend Christmas or New Year with loved ones then take a look at our top tips for long-distance driving.
Make sure you plan your journey before you set off. Even if you will be using a satnav it’s advisable to have a rough idea of the route you will be taking so if you lose signal you will still know roughly where you are heading.
It’s also important to consider when and where to take stops. The AA suggests taking at least a fifteen-minute break every three hours of driving. Incorporating stops can enhance your journey so why not plan to stop off at a picturesque village or town you've always wanted to explore.
It’s also a good idea to let people know where you are heading and when you are setting off. That way if you do run into any problems people will be able to raise the alarm for you if you don’t arrive when expected.
While some may scoff at this one it is actually pretty essential that you are well-rested before you set off on a long drive. Driving when tired has been compared to driving when under the influence of alcohol. Research published on Think.co.uk suggests that 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related. Fatigue reduces your reaction time, concentration and alertness so it is important to recognise when you need to take a break behind the wheel.
This is even more important when driving in challenging weather conditions as you are required to concentrate even more, which can result in you tiring sooner.
Even if you make the same trip every year it is important that you are prepared for what could happen. We’ve compiled a checklist of all the essentials you should be carrying when heading out in wintry conditions.
On a long journey, it is important to make sure you carry things like spare food, water and clothing. By doing so, if the worst case scenario occurs and you get stranded on a road, you will be able to stay warm and have something to eat and drink.
As well as planning out your journey it’s essential you check the condition of the car. As a bare minimum you should check;
- All the cars lights are working and are clean to maximise visibility
- The car battery is fully charged
- The screen wash is topped up at the correct ratio to ensure it doesn’t freeze
- The brakes are in full working order
- Tyre tread depth – while 1.6mm is the legal tread depth requirement the recommended tread depth for driving in winter is 3mm -make sure you also check the spare wheel
We would also recommend fitting winter tyres once the temperature consistently falls below seven degrees. Below this temperature winter tyres improve the cars handling and can help reduce stopping distances.
Check out some of the most common winter car issues and discover more about how you can avoid being caught out when heading on a long-drive in wintry conditions. However, if you are not confident about checking the condition of your vehicle yourself why not book in for a winter car check and let our expert technicians make sure your vehicle is fully prepped for winter?
In the very worst conditions, you must be prepared for deferring travel plans until the weather improves. Your safety and that of other road users is of paramount importance so in poor conditions, if the journey is not necessary do not make it.
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