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Stay Safe While Driving Home For Christmas

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Chris Rea’s classic, “Driving Home For Christmas”. Quite a lot of us will be doing this during this holiday season – driving somewhere to celebrate, that is, not listening to Chris Rea. Whether we’re driving from one side of town to another to visit the relatives, or whether we’re taking the chance to make the most of the newly opened borders and head off on a long-awaited summer road trip, we want to have a happy summer holiday season that’s remembered for all the right reasons, rather than for a road tragedy.

If you’re planning a trip of any length during this Christmas, New Year and summer holiday season, then here’s a bunch of tips to keep in mind to make sure that things go smoothly and safely for everybody.

  1. Allow more time for your journey. During the lead-up to Christmas, the roads are super-busy. Everybody’s travelling and/or doing their Christmas shopping, and taking the kids places now that school’s out for the summer. At the same time, it always feels like the road works crews are stepping things up, trying to get scheduled maintenance tasks done before the Christmas closedown. This means that you can expect the roads to be busy and that things will take longer. Save yourself some stress and allow for the extra time, rather than ending up stressed and under time pressure, which could cause you take silly risks.
  2. Drive sober. You’d think that we shouldn’t need reminding about this, but every year, you hear about some idiot crashing thanks to having had a few too many bevvies. Yes, it’s party season and the time of year when we’re most likely to over-indulge, but the risk of driving drunk is still there. Play it safe and know your limits. Have a designated driver (take turns if needed). These days, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to not drink alcohol, and there are plenty of non-alcoholic cocktails that say “party” without getting you smashed (in both senses) – a Virgin Mary is rather seasonally appropriate, don’t you think? If you have overdone it, then don’t drive. Better to crash on a mate’s sofa than into a lamppost.
  3. Stay hydrated. It’s summer, so things get hot. This means that our bodies need more liquid. What’s more, if you have a flask of something nice and cold (and non-alcoholic, of course) then you can help yourself chill down and avoid headaches with a nice cold drink. If you’ve got a long trip planned, then try freezing a plastic bottle of water overnight then taking this with you. It will slowly melt as the hours pass, giving you a deliciously cold drink.
  4. Get yourself a good playlist. If you’re going to be stuck in the car for ages driving interstate with the kids, then a good playlist – of Christmas carols or otherwise – can help you get in the right mood and can help you stay calm. Create yourself a playlist of favourite Christmas carols then sing along with them as loud as you can with the windows down, especially if you’re stuck in road works. See how many smiles you can collect. Alternatively, if you’re fed up with twee jingly tunes, then put on your own playlist of bangers to listen to so that the annoying tune you heard in the store doesn’t stay on repeat in your brain.
  5. Keep the speed down. If you’ve allowed more time for your trip, you should be OK here. However, if you haven’t it’s better to arrive later than never. It’s also better not to add to the Christmas expenses with a speeding ticket. The cops are usually out in force at this time of year, so keep the right foot light. This especially applies if you’re driving to a less familiar area where the speed limits may not be what your instincts are telling you.
  6. Get your car summer-ready. It’s always wise to ensure that the fluids are topped up and that the windscreen is clean, and that everything else is as it should be in your car. It’s especially important to do this before a long trip if you haven’t had one for a while, which is likely to be the case in 2021 when the interstate borders have opened after having been closed for so long.
  7. If you can, avoid the more congested routes and times. Smart use of maps and timing your travel for less popular times can help avoid clogged roads and being caught in a traffic jam. Driving at night or in the early morning can also be cooler. However, make sure that you don’t try do drive when tired. And if you do get caught in a stream of traffic that’s top to toe in tail lights, then don’t stew about it but just go with the flow. You will get there eventually, as long as you get there safely.

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