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Stay safe over the 12 days of Christmas

We’ve teamed up with road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist to offer a selection of safer driving tips for the 12 days of Christmas.

The pressures of the festive season mean it’s often easy to let good habits slip, so now is an ideal time to remember the importance of staying safe on our holiday journeys.

Brushing up on these 12 sensible reminders for safer driving could make the difference between a wonderful Christmas and a not-so-happy ending….

1) Think ahead and book a taxi home. If you’re going to be out celebrating this Christmas, there is one simple rule to remember – drink OR drive. Don’t drive if you’re drinking, and don’t drink if you’re driving.

2) Always wear your seatbelt. Wearing your seatbelt, as a driver or passenger, is the single most effective way to save your life or reduce your injuries if you’re involved in a crash. So, no matter how far you’re driving, always belt up.  

3) Keep excited children safe. It’s really important to ensure children are visible if they’re walking by dark roads. And if you’re all in the car, make sure everyone’s seatbelt (and restraint) are correctly fitted… even the older children who you would usually trust to do so themselves.

4) Driving home for Christmas? Plan your journeys in advance. Nobody wants to get caught out in traffic or bad weather, so a little advance planning goes a long way. If the weather’s bad, postpone a trip if possible. Listen to weather forecasts to avoid getting caught out by sudden changes in the conditions.

5) Slow down this Christmas. At this time of year, we often find ourselves rushing from one place to another. But when it comes to driving, rushing can do more harm than good. No one else can tell you how fast to drive – it’s your responsibility. So stay safe, give yourself plenty of time and space to stop if you need to.

6) Don’t drive tired. Think about how you’re feeling before you hit the road. Maybe you’ve been out celebrating or up until the early hours wrapping gifts – whatever the reason, if you’re tired then please don’t drive. Fatigued drivers take longer to react to hazards. Reduce festive fatigue by building in time for breaks on journeys. Also, share the driving if possible.

7) Taking medication? Be ready to stay out of the driving seat if you’re using medicines that could make you drowsy, as these can impair your ability to react to hazards. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to be on illegal drugs to be unfit to drive. Always check the label for warnings, and if unsure please arrange for somebody else to take the wheel.

8) Check your tyres before setting off. Every safety system on your car depends on your tyres working effectively in an emergency. Well-maintained tyres can save your life, so take no risks and check them before you set off, particularly on long journeys.

9) Steer away from e-scooter gifts. They may look fun and fast, but privately-owned e-scooters can only be used on private land – not on public roads, cycle lanes or pavements… something to consider carefully if you’re thinking about buying one as a gift this Christmas.

10) Banish festive family distractions. Long car journeys can be tedious and often require a bit of effort to keep everyone entertained. As driver, reduce the risk of distractions by encouraging passengers – especially children – to let you focus on the driving. In return, give them the chance to let off steam  during a break or at journey’s end.

11) Watch out for kids on new bikes. A new bike is a popular gift at Christmas and what child can resist a spin on a smart new set of wheels? As a driver, expect to think – and act – for others who are less aware of risk.

12) New mobile phone for Christmas? Lucky you! But please remember not to use it when you’re driving. Focus solely on the journey and reduce your risks, and save your scrolling until you’re safely parked with the engine off and the key out.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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