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Summer Holiday Driving

Summer holiday driving.

Whether you are planning a long drive to the beautiful coastline of Cornwall, the Scottish Hebrides, the Welsh mountains, or the Lake District, or perhaps you are taking the ferry or Eurostar to Europe, you should act like a Boy Scout and be prepared.

Summer holiday driving should be fun, but make sure you consider the dangers of a long drive. You may have kids in the back, distracting your attention, hot sun, if you are lucky, glaring through the windscreen, or be stuck in a jam caused by a mass exodus to the coast.

Around 106 million holiday trips are taken within the UK, the highest proportion being taken during the six-week school summer holiday period. A further 81 million day trips are made to the seaside and 278 million to the countryside.

“Roads to favourite coastal and leisure destinations will be packed at peak times,” warns Green Flag spokes person Nigel Charlesworth. “Saturday is traditionally the day most holidaymakers travel. If it can't be avoided, we would advise that you either set off early in the day or leave late afternoon, to avoid the traffic congestion.”

Don't drop off

Many motorists facing a long journey in the UK or heading for the continent choose to set off late on a Friday evening to drive through the night and avoid the traffic jams. Although this seems sensible, you could be putting you and others at risk if you are too tired to drive.
According to the government, a tenth of all accidents on UK roads are caused by people falling asleep. This rises to an alarming one in five on motorways. Worryingly, the Green Flag Report on Safe Driving found 60 per cent of motorists admitting to driving when tired.

“If you are planning to travel through the night, it is ideal if two people can share the driving, so that each has the chance to take a nap,” says Mr Charlesworth. “A sole driver should have a sleep before setting off if possible and then plan a route and extra time to ensure that regular breaks can be taken on the way.”

To stay alert, try not to eat heavy meals that will bring your blood sugar down to the point of making you tired. Don’t rely on caffeine-rich drinks to keep you alert. Drink too many of these and you may start feeling shaky and anxious. Supplement with high-dose vitamin-B complex, which steadies nerves and provides your body with energy.

“We always advise drivers to check out their cars and their route before setting off, but would recommend that they check out any medical prescriptions, to ensure they arrive at their holiday destination safe and sound,” says Mr Charlesworth.

“It's the season for hay fever and many antihistamines are taken to relieve it can cause drowsiness,” he adds. “Unfortunately, drivers tend to forget or are not warned sufficiently of the dangers of sleep-inducing medication.”

Pack the essentials
Never mind about picnic food supplies or suitcases, make sure you carry some essential motoring supplies that you may need along the way. Carry antifreeze/coolant, washer fluid, spare bulbs – this is a legal requirement in Europe – a safety triangle, torch, map, and drinking water. Before you set off, check the fluid levels in your car, along with the tyre pressures, oil level and top-up the washer fluid tank.

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