It’s no surprise that Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year on Irish roads. So, it’s important to be extra vigilant when heading out on any journey. This guide offers handy tips on how to stay safe behind the wheel this Christmas.
THE LEAD-UP TO CHRISTMAS
Hectic festive preparations mean you’ll most likely be taking lots of trips in the car. It goes without saying that drivers must always stay within the speed limit, but also be mindful of the following:
Driving in the City
Heading into the city for a spot of shopping? Be prepared for delays and heavy volumes of traffic, as lots of people will have had the same idea! Tune into a local radio station for traffic updates, and try to plan your route in advance, including the car park you intend to use. It may fill up quicker than you’d hoped, so have an alternative in mind. There’ll be lots of pedestrians about, so make sure to watch out. If the weather is cold, be aware that roads may be icy, so go slowly.
If the weather is cold, be aware that roads may be icy, so go slowly.
Christmas Parties & Designated Drivers
Christmas is a time for celebration, and as such, lots of work parties take place in the run-up to the big day. Take a taxi, hackney or decide among your friends who’ll be the designated driver on nights out.
Never use the roads when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and familiarise yourself with the new roadside impairment testing from the Gardai. Don’t forget about the next day either. If you need to be somewhere early that morning, read these guidelines to ensure you’re not over the limit.
Transporting the Christmas Tree
Another Christmas highlight is of course, the tree! If you’re planning on picking one up and don’t have access to a nice roomy van, bear in mind your humble car may not be up to the task. First, measure the tree to ensure that it will indeed fit in (or on top of) your car. If it’s going inside the car, make adjustments, like lowering the back seats, before you leave. Put down a blanket to avoid getting pine needles all over your car too. Familiarise yourself with the RSA’s guidelines for securing vehicle loads to ensure you don’t endanger yourself or anyone else.
Part of what makes Christmas so special is getting to catch up with friends and family. Visiting aunts, uncles and grandparents is on most people’s festive itinerary, with some folk travelling the length of the country on Christmas Eve or even Christmas Day to be with loved ones. With that in mind, be prepared for lots of traffic, and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
Be prepared for lots of traffic, and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
Before you Leave
As we all know, Irish winters tend to be chilly, and drivers are often greeted with frozen windscreens on cold mornings. Resist the temptation to throw boiling water across the glass – you may cause it to crack. Instead, start your car and turn on the heater for five minutes. Then turn on the defroster. Soon your windscreen wipers should easily remove the thawed ice. It’s also worth investing in an ice-scraper and some de-icer. This is a special fluid that quickly melts ice and is handy if you’re in a hurry! Make sure you have a car emergency kit too, so you’re fully prepared for any eventualities.
Now that you’re ready to start your journey, it’s important to be prepared for difficult weather conditions; ice, high winds and even storms are all common in Ireland during winter. As always, ensure you and any passengers are belted up, with babies and young children secured safely in car seats.
Drivers should remain highly alert for the duration of the journey, stopping to stretch their legs and get some fresh air if they feel fatigue coming on, and trying not to drive too late at night. With lots of traffic on the road, it’s also important to avoid distraction as much as possible. Switch off the mobile, avoiding fiddling with the radio and stop the car when it’s safe to do so, if you want to grab a bite to eat. Find some more #drivesafer tips here.
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