At this time of year, more and more people will be visiting loved ones and getting away for the festive season. It can mean driving long distances for many people as they travel to see friends and family they haven't seen since last Christmas.
For a lot of drivers, this might mean hitting the motorway at one of the busiest times of year. When this is coupled with the fact the weather is less than preferable, it can make the motorway a difficult task to handle. So what are the best ways to prepare and tackle motorways? We look at some of the top tips available.
Before you hit the road
- Checks. Make sure you look for any indicators of problems before you attempt a long motorway drive of any kind. Tyre pressure and tread should always be the first port of call, and tyres should be changed if there is any problem straight away. Other checks you need to do include the oil, brake and clutch fluid, as well as the windscreen washer, all of which can be done under the bonnet.
- Plan ahead. Motorway driving can differ greatly depending on how you drive and what time you go at. If you don't need to drive in rush hour, it's best to avoid these periods, for example. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be as well. Whatever your estimated duration is, add another half hour just to be on the safe side.
- Pack for the weather. At this time of year, it's far more likely that you might break down while you're out on the road. In winter, this is the last thing you need. Make sure you take warm clothes, some sturdy shoes in case you need to walk, and food.
- Take care. Follow the rules of the road at all times, and make sure you are leaving two seconds between yourself and the car in front. In winter weather, add another two seconds to be on the safe side if roads are wet or icy or if visibility is low.
- Watch your speed. Just because the speed limit is 70mph, it doesn't mean you have to drive this fast, especially in the winter months. Use your own judgement and make sure you feel safe when you're on the motorway. Keep your eye on how fast you are driving as well, as it can easily creep up when you're driving long distances without changes.
- Follow the rules. There are a number of things to make sure you adhere to on the motorway, including making sure you stick to the left unless overtaking and indicating whenever you change lane.
- Keep your eyes open. Make sure you are always aware of what's going on around you. It's easy for concentration to slip on a long drive, particularly on a straight road like a motorway. To ensure this doesn't happen to you, check your mirrors every so often and scan the road to keep an eye out for hazards.
- Get off the road. If you break down at any time, you need to get off the road and away from danger. Steer your car into the hard shoulder when safe to get it out of the way of fast-moving traffic. Switch on your hazard lights to make your car visible.
- Call for help. If you have access to a motorway emergency phone, use this as it will automatically provide your exact location. If you don't, call your breakdown company from your mobile phone and try to use signs and the nearest junctions to inform them of where you are.
- Stand clear. After you have called for help, don't return to the car. It may be warm and feel safe, but the chances of you getting hit by another vehicle while you're stationary is much higher. Stand on the grass verge away from your car while you wait.
Posted by Danielle Barge