We already know how important it is to consider many different factors when making sure we are driving safely. But we reckon this time of year might be the most challenging of all.
Here are just some of the extra challenges:
The news is showing us images of what trying to drive in the London snow is like, and our hearts go out to those in California dealing with raging scrub fires which are wreaking all kinds of havoc, not least that many roads have been closed completely due to the danger. So while we can be grateful we don't have those extremes here, we have had the hottest December on record to date. Heat can make drivers irritable and sleepy, and being sweaty and uncomfortable can be pretty distracting. Sunstrike can be an issue with later sunsets, and a tiny bit of rain on extremely dry road surface can mean a very slippery driver.
Tip: Be extra aware of the conditions, always have cool water with you and try to be well rested, and if conditions appear risky, plan your trip so you can pull over and take a break if needed.
Do you get pretty good at predicting traffic patterns? You know that when you leave more than 10 minutes later in the morning, you will encounter a worse jam, and you know to avoid certain areas at 3pm (school pickup) and 5pm (rush hour). But in December it feels like everything changes. Schools and universities are on holiday, the areas and motorway offramps near malls and shops become much busier due to xmas shoppers, and trying to find a park near the beach becomes near impossible. Smaller towns notice an influx of holiday makers, and some stretches of road simply aren't used to the volume of traffic that descends on December. Remember these aerial images of people heading home for thanksgiving in America this year?
Tip: Predict the unpredictable! Leave slightly earlier, keep something to do in the car in case you arrive earlier, and try and minimise road rage. Can you avoid the mall altogether in December? Or do very early morning supermarket shopping rather than a Christmas eve visit?
December can be an expensive time, with lots of family commitments and looming work deadlines. We've been out later, doing more planning, fitting more in before the holidays and all this can take its toll.
Tip: Be realistic about what you can manage, and talk to those around you. Would they pressure you to attend a function if they knew the risk you could be taking to get home from it? Also know your own triggers and tells. Know when you're nearing the end of your energy, and know what rejuvenates you. Our fatigue module has some more useful tips.
Christmas parties, perhaps some prescription medicine to manage stress, and some will turn to drugs to get through. Even all the heavy food at this time of year can make a difference. If you normally have a sandwich for lunch and suddenly it's a 3 course christmas lunch plus snacking on the chocolates left around the office - that will have an impact on your body, and ability to stay awake/respond quickly if needed.
Tip: If you're worried about someone, talk to them. If you need help, call. If you don't want to drink too much, buddy up and help each other pace yourselves. Or go all out, but book a taxi home. Take a look at our substances module for more.
So with all that out of the way, December can actually be an incredible time of year too. Enjoy the weather, enjoy the food, and keep safe on the roads out there.
The Fleetcoach Team