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Know your limits: tips for driving on Christmas Day


As the holidays approach, families are beginning to plan their Christmas Day.

With borders opening in some parts of the country, many Australians will be travelling to visit loved ones they haven’t seen in months.

Planning travel during the holidays can help you beat the traffic, as well as avoid these common hazards.

Driving on Christmas Day

December is the worst month for road trauma, including serious injuries and deaths, in Australia.

In 2019, 31 Australians died during the twelve day Christmas holiday period, according to the Department of Transport.

Motorists on road trips travelling through unfamiliar areas are especially at risk, as are those driving long hours without resting. Planning a rural road trip? Read these safety tips for driving on country roads.

Christmas driving safety tips

Keep these safety tips in mind should you be getting behind the wheel this Christmas.

Have your car serviced

If your car is due for a visit to the mechanic, have it serviced before taking any long journeys. A breakdown could see you miss Christmas celebrations, or worse cause a car accident.

Keep in mind mechanics may close or keep irregular hours over the holiday, so don’t leave it until Christmas Eve.

Map out your trip and rest breaks

If you are driving an unfamiliar route, plan your journey ahead of time. Take a note of faculties like restaurants and bathrooms so you can plan your rest stops. If there’s more than one driver with you, consider swapping who drives to allow rests.

Relying solely on your GPS navigation could end up with you asking for directions, especially if you’ve driving through regional areas where mobile network coverage can be hit-and-miss.

Secure all luggage safely

If you have luggage strapped to your car, check it's in place during your journey.

If you’re towing a trailer, check your car is capable of safely towing the trailer’s weight. The same applies if you’re carrying a heavy load in your car or on your ute’s flatbead. Packing the weight evenly will prevent uneven weight distribution affecting your car or trailer’s handling.

A trailer or loose item can cause a serious accident if it disconnects or falls off your vehicle. The driver responsible could face criminal charges, as well as having to pay compensation for any damages or injuries caused. If the driver was carrying a load which exceeds their vehicles maximum tow or downball weight, their insurance may be voided.

Drink driving during Christmas

Beer, wine and cocktails are enjoyed over the Christmas period, but don’t rely on driving if you are drinking. Around 1 in 4 Australian drivers killed on the road have a BAC level exceeding the legal limit.

If you’re going to drink, consider:

  • Staying at your family or friend’s place the night;
  • Use public transport, rideshare or taxis;
  • Plan your ride home with a designated driver in the group.

Involved in a Christmas car accident? Contact Shine Lawyers

If you’ve been in a road accident over the summer holidays, our expert motor vehicle accident lawyers can help. A legal claim could help you access specialist medical treatment, as well as compensate you for lost earnings. You may be eligible for benefits through your superannuation — our lawyers will consider all your entitlements.

Get in touch today for an obligation-free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: December 2, 2020.

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