It’s my favourite time of the year, as the spring bulbs pop up, the days get longer and the sun offers that little bit of warmth. We start to cast off the winter clothes and optimistically look forward to hot, Summer days, sitting in the garden with a long, cool drink!
And this year we have the added bonus of Covid19 restrictions starting to ease. If all goes to plan, from Monday 12 April we can sit outside for a drink at a local pub or café and single households can take a self-catering break. So, our travel habits will change again, presenting a new set of road safety challenges for the Safer Roads Partnership to address.
For those lucky enough to have booked a cottage or a lodge and be off to see some new scenery, make sure that both you and your vehicle are ready for the road. The previous “stay local” advice means that not many of us will have been on a long journey for quite a while and we forget how tiring it can be concentrating for long periods of time when travelling on unfamiliar routes.
Make sure you are well rested before you set off and plan your journey to include regular stops. Remember to wear your glasses if you need them for driving. You don’t have to drive to a castle to check your eyesight, if you can’t read a number plate from 20 metres, you need to get those eyes tested!
Check that your vehicle is ready for the longer journey too by making sure it is regularly serviced and has a current MOT if it’s over three years old. There are some simple checks that you can do too using the acronym FLOWER. Each of the letters stands for a different part of the vehicle to be examined:
Fuel – ensure you have enough for the journey
Lights - check lights are clean and bulbs are working
Oil – check oil levels and secure oil filler cap and dipstick
Water – check levels in the radiator and screen wash, including coolant and antifreeze mixtures
Electrics – check the battery is in good condition
Rubber – check the tyres for signs of wear and ensure tyre pressures and tread depths are sufficient. Are wiper blades clean and in good condition?
Hopefully these few simple checks will help to save you time on your precious holiday getaway as well as the unnecessary stress of breaking down. But if that does happen, do you know what to do to keep yourself and your passengers safe?
Move your vehicle off the road if possible to make sure it’s in the safest place.
Put your hazard lights on
Stay well away from the moving traffic
Wear a hi-vis jacket if you have one
If you’re on a road and it’s safe, you can put a warning triangle at least 45m (50 yards) behind your vehicle (but it’s not safe to do this If you’re on a motorway)
Call your breakdown recovery provider (it’s a good idea to have a charged mobile phone with you). If you are stopped in a live running lane on a motorway call 999.
For those of us not fortunate enough to be off on a staycation this April, we might be looking forward to meeting up with friends and family in the beer garden of our local pub. For me it’s a double celebration as Monday 12 April is my birthday. And after spending a birthday in total lockdown last year I’m looking forward to at least being able to meet up outdoors with friends and family in groups of six.
But after being couped up at home for so long it could be easy to get carried away and drink more than we had intended. That has consequences, especially if you are driving. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely and the penalties if you are caught just aren’t worth it. Remember, depending on how much you have had to drink the night before, you could still be over the limit to drive the next morning too. So, if you have to drive, it’s best not to have a drink and if you’ve had a drink, don’t drive.
I won’t be driving on the 12th or the 13th of April and if you are celebrating a return to the pub on the 12th give me the best birthday present and help me to get home safely. Don’t be a drink driver who I might meet whist crossing the road on the way.
Stay safe until next time.