Dec 112017
 

 Despite the festive spirit, you may feel, driving home for Christmas is not always so joyous.

With millions of people travelling to see their nearest and dearest, the prolonged journeys, unexpected road conditions and temperamental weather can often mean feeling more Bah Humbug! than Christmas Cheer.

Here at Warranty Direct, we’ve put together our own guide to avoiding Christmas travel chaos – so you won’t end up feeling like Scrooge come Christmas Eve!

Consult more than your advent calendar…

Planning ahead could save you a huge amount of time and hassle. This year, Christmas Day falls on a Monday. This means roads on Saturday and Sunday beforehand are likely to be jam-packed and journeys could take twice as long. The Friday before Christmas 2016 saw 12 million cars on the road, so also be wary of travelling on the evening of Friday 22nd.

Online tools such as Highways England’s planned roadwork finder can be used to check your route is clear of any planned disruption prior to travel.

If you have to drive over the Christmas weekend, it’s best to ensure you don’t do so at peak times. If you can, avoid the motorways. Leave as early as possible on Friday 22nd. Journeying in the evenings on Saturday and Sunday may also save some time.

Driving in the evening can be easier if travelling with kids. Snuggle them up in the backseat with cosy blankets, play Christmas audio books or set up a festive film on a laptop to keep them entertained. You can even put them in pyjamas before setting off – so hopefully they’ll fall asleep!

Don’t just ‘let it snow’

In recent years, winters in Britain have been mild. However, some weather experts are predicting the coldest December in five years, which may mean further difficulties with travel.

Driving in snow and ice is not easy, so make sure you remind yourself of the necessary stopping distances before you travel. These can increase tenfold in snow or ice, so be mindful of traffic in front of you. If conditions are particularly hazardous, you can invest in a set of winter tyres or tyre chains to prevent skidding

Should you run into trouble, it’s vital to keep a winter emergency kit in your car. This should include items such as a snow shovel, tow rope and a high-visibility vest.

Don’t attempt to make repairs yourself – simply call your breakdown provider and request assistance. BreakdownCare Plus* from Warranty Direct provides benefits such as UK roadside assistance and nationwide recovery, to legal advice and uninsured loss recovery.

Be tech-savvy

We are lucky today’s technology has vastly improved when it comes to providing motoring assistance. Google Maps and TomTom’s MyDrive route planner are great tools to use before you set off, to plan the quickest route and avoid traffic hotspots.

There are also a huge range of sat-nav apps available, which can provide alternative routes to help you avoid the worst of the traffic.

Plan for the Polar Express

Not only do fewer trains run during the festive season, this quieter period is often used to undertake maintenance work on rail services. This year, in particular, it’s been reported there will be a major disruption to London services. There will be no trains from Charing Cross, Cannon Street Waterloo East and London Bridge stations from 23 December to New Year’s Day.

National Rail’s future engineering work search tool can give you a good indication as to any delays you might encounter and when – so you know whether to make alternative travel plans.

* – Breakdown cover is operated by AXA Assistance on behalf of Warranty Direct and underwritten by Inter Partner Assistance.

Warranty Direct Limited is a company, registered in England and Wales No. 3233010 at Pinnacle House, A1 Barnet Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 2XX and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Register No.309075

Aug 272016
 

New research for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company, has revealed that the average driver knows only 79% of UK road sign meanings, with one in five road signs a mystery.

For two in five drivers, not being able to understand a sign or being confused over its meaning has led to problems on the road. The most common mistakes due to misinterpreting road signs are breaking the speed limit (16%), braking suddenly (15%) and having to slow down, causing traffic to build up (9%).

Perhaps recognising the gaps in their knowledge, the majority of drivers believe that the driving theory and hazard perception tests should be retaken throughout people’s motoring lives, with more than half (53%) thinking it should be repeated at least once every twenty years.

When researchers for Kwik Fit tested drivers on some specific UK roads signs and road markings, some significant gaps in their knowledge were revealed.  Only one in ten drivers correctly identified the central white line markings which indicate a hazard ahead.  In direct contrast to their true meaning, the vast majority (66%) believed that this line meant normal road conditions.

A circular white sign with a red border is worryingly unfamiliar to the majority of drivers, as only a quarter (27%) know that this means “all vehicles prohibited expect bicycles being pushed by pedestrians”. More than this number (30%) of drivers think it signifies a “red route – no waiting” while a further third (33%) admitted to not knowing.

While a white “C” on a red circle should be familiar to drivers in the capital, one in four Londoners (22%) don’t recognise this as signifying a congestion charging zone.  In fact, 6% of Londoners think it means “caution children ahead” with 4% believing it marks a charging point for electric vehicles. Those drivers from outside London should take care if they are making a trip to the capital, as more than a third (34%) could not correctly identify the road sign, and so could find themselves risking a penalty fine.

Signs giving indications of speed caused confusion for a surprising number of drivers. Kwik Fit found that almost one in five drivers (19%) were flummoxed by the meaning of a white circle with a black diagonal bar.  5% thought this meant a 70 mph limit applied, 4% thought 60mph applied while 7% thought it meant no speed restrictions, something which doesn’t apply on any public road in the UK. The correct meaning is “national speed limit applies”.

As well as maximum speeds causing confusion, drivers are also in danger of being caught out by minimum speeds signs.  A white 30 on a blue circle with a red diagonal line through it indicates the end of a 30mph minimum speed zone, something that could be identified by just one in four (25%) of drivers.

Two-thirds (68%) of UK adults believe that drivers should have to re-take the driving theory and hazard perception tests, with an average gap of every 15 years. Those who do currently drive would leave a longer period between tests, on average every 16.5 years, while non-drivers believe motorists should be retested every 11 years

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, says: “The findings show that although many of us think we are good drivers, we are ready to accept that we don’t know the meanings of all road signs. Our research showed that some surprising results, and indicated that there are some clear instructions and safety warnings which drivers are not picking up on when out on the road.

“While people can’t be expected to voluntarily retake their test, it would be a good idea for even those of us who have been driving a long time to make sure we really do know the correct meaning of road signs and markings.”

Answers to the signs above are as follows:

A – Warning of ‘Give Way’ just ahead

B – No Entry

C – Level Crossing without barrier

D – National Speed Limit applies

E – Hazard Warning Line

F – Side winds warning             

G – End of minimum speed limit

H – Congestion Charge Zone just ahead

I –  No vehicles except bicycles being pushed

J – Country Park attraction