Motorists driving home for Christmas have been warned about the weather across certain parts of the UK on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Over seven million people are expected to hit the roads on those two day alone but the bad weather could cause problems for these motorists.
According to the Met Office, low-pressure conditions are likely to dominate from Christmas Eve onwards.
Met Office Meteorologist Helen Chivers comments: “For the big day itself, parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland are likely to see some heavy and prolonged rain and there is still a possibility of a white Christmas for some northern areas of Scotland. But, for most of us, it’s largely going to be dry and breezy Christmas Day.”
While many would typically associate snow and ice to be the most dangerous weather condition to drive in, Highways England has suggested that rain is perhaps the greatest threat of all.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Drivers will typically slow down in snow, ice or fog but when it rains, many consider it to be normal so they don’t adapt their driving habits.
“Despite this perception, rain is a serious threat, making it harder for tyres to grip the road and harder for drivers to see ahead – factors that significantly increase the chances of a collision.
“The hard fact is that 2,978 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads during rain in the last year.
“A good rule of thumb is if it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down.
Drivers warned of bad weather on the roads over Christmas
“Now with high wind and rain expected over Christmas, and many motorists possibly rushing to get to their loved ones, we are trying to make drivers aware of the dangers and advising them to stay safe when driving over the festive period.”
Drivers will typically slow down in snow, ice or fog
Helen Chivers commented: “The RAC have dubbed this Friday as ‘Frantic Friday’ because it’s anticipated to be really busy on the roads, but from a weather perspective bursts of rain and gusty winds on Boxing day may cause motorists more disruption on what is expected to be the busiest day of Christmas travel with an expected 5.2 million car journeys planned.”
One in five drivers have suffered at least one accident over the past five years as a result of winter road conditions, said the Met Office.
On average the damage caused by these accidents costs drivers £1,362 in damages.
Here are a number of tips for to stay safe while driving in storms, rain and high winds:
1. Even moderate rain can reduce your ability to see and be seen. A good rule of thumb is ‘if it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down’.
2. If heavy downpours are expected, avoid starting your journey until it clears. Check for the latest weather forecast on the metoffice.gov.uk website, check the app or its social media channels.
3. If you can, choose main roads, where you are less likely to be exposed to fallen branches and debris and flooding.
4. Use dipped headlights if visibility is seriously reduced.
5. Follow the ‘two second rule’ to have sufficient space between you and car in front. Leave several regular car lengths if travelling at high speeds.
Drivers have been warned to take extra precautions over the festive break
6. Gusts of wind can unsettle vehicles – grip your steering wheel firmly with both hands. This is particularly important when planning to overtake.
7. Keep an eye out for gaps between trees, buildings or bridges over a river or railway – these are some of the places you are more likely to be exposed to side winds. Ensure that you maintain enough room either side of your vehicle so you can account for it being blown sideways.
8. Roads will be more slippery than usual in wet weather – be sure to give yourself more time to react when approaching a hazard. Increase your following gap to at least four seconds from the moving traffic in front.
9. Keep your eyes peeled on the road at all times as spray from other vehicles can suddenly reduce your visibility. Remember it affects others too, so anticipate their actions and be prepared.
10. Remember to give vulnerable road users including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians more room than usual. They are more likely to be blown around by side winds – always keep a safe distance.