Driver risk concerns as Covid-19 impacts Christmas travel plans
Delays or changes to Christmas travel plans due to coronavirus concerns could bring safety issues for drivers with “potentially catastrophic consequences”.
Research carried out by IAM RoadSmart has found many motorists will rush to make last-minute car travel plans for the Christmas period this year, while others will make fewer stops when driving long journeys.
Its survey of 1,000 drivers in the UK found almost seven in 10 (69%) are still waiting to make firm travel plans until they have clearer guidelines from the Government on travel restrictions that may affect them – and this gives them less time to prepare for potentially long journeys and make critical vehicle safety checks.
And 40% of long-distance drivers who travel more than 150 miles over Christmas and who would normally stop for a break have decided that they won’t do so this year due to concerns over coronavirus and social distancing.
IAM warns that a lack of planning and not stopping for breaks could have serious road safety implications. Neil Greig, policy and research director at the road safety charity, said: “While it’s understandable that ongoing uncertainty and safety concerns over exposing relatives to the virus has caused many people to postpone their planning, it is important that critical safety steps, such as making vehicle maintenance checks and stopping regularly during long journeys are not overlooked.”
Greig added: “Taking a break on a long car journey is essential for the driver, and passengers, to recharge their batteries. Spending too long behind-the-wheel in one stint can lead to drowsiness and a loss of concentration with potentially catastrophic consequences for all road users. Our advice is to take at least a 15-minute break every two hours.
“The festive season is a busy period for many of us, and this year it will likely be even more challenging as Coronavirus continues to impact our everyday lives. But road safety and – taking sensible precautions – is everyone’s responsibility when driving, no matter what other pressures are at play. So, we urge everyone to make sure they leave time for important safety measures as they make their travel plans this Christmas.”