A lady driving home for Christmas
Simple time management can save a lot of stress over the festive period

Whether you are making the five-mile or 55-mile round trip to see loved ones over the Christmas period, it is important to ensure you are up to the demands and that your vehicle is road-ready.

Leading road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has published a list of hints and tips that are intended to ensure safer journeys at what is traditionally the busiest time of the year on Northern Ireland’s roads.

1) It goes without saying – but always wear your seatbelt: Wearing your seatbelt, as a driver or passenger, is the single most effective way to save your life or reduce potential injuries should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in a crash. So, no matter how far you’re driving, always belt up.  

2) 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. It sounds obvious but listen to weather forecasts to avoid getting caught out by sudden changes in the conditions.

3) Slow down this festive period: 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, give yourself plenty of time and space to stop if you need to.

4) Don’t drive on empty: Think about how you’re feeling before you hit the road. Maybe you’ve been out celebrating or have been up until the early hours wrapping gifts. Whatever the reason if you’re tired then think twice about getting behind the wheel. Fatigued drivers take longer to react to hazards. Our advice would be to share the driving if possible.

5) Keep excited children safe: If you’re all in the car, make sure everyone’s seatbelt – and restraint – are correctly fitted. This includes older children who you would usually trust to do so themselves.

6) 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.

7) Banish festive family distractions: Long car journeys can be tedious and often require a bit of effort to keep everyone entertained. As the 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.

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