Christmas is great. Great for family, great for food, the list is almost endless. One thing it isn’t great for is driving.

The festive period can spell havoc on the roads of Britain, especially when it comes to doing that all-important Christmas shopping. Thankfully, road safety charity IAM Roadsmart has prepared a list of tips to help you managed the hell on the roads this Christmas.

“As Christmas approaches it becomes more difficult to ‘pop’ into the town centre, parking spaces can be in short supply and a queue to get in or out takes away from the pleasure of choosing a gift,” said IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman. “Park and ride is often a good option and some local authorities will set up a scheme especially for Christmas. If you are able avoid the weekend, it is often easier to find a space whilst most people are dealing with their daily commute.”

IAM Roadsmart’s Christmas driving tips

  1. Deciding where to park can have a huge impact on cost, Its been known for parking charges to cost more than some presents themselves. Have a look and see if your town have special offers on parking around the festive season – some towns have reduced rates on certain days and for late night shopping.
  2. Think about where you leave your vehicle in a multi-story car park – always choose your space on when you plan to return, it is never nice to return to the only car left on the top floor of a now relatively empty car park.
  3. At any one time, 30% of drivers on UK roads are in city centres searching for a parking space, on average it takes 10-15 minutes to find somewhere to park and during busy periods that time frame gets bigger! So make sure you add the time it will take to get parked up into your time plan for the day.
  4. Choose a car park which has a certificate backed by the police for safety such as Park Mark, their car parks use clear directional signage and traffic flow techniques like one-way circulation so drivers are not confused about which way to go. Pedestrian access and exit routes are clearly indicated with signage and controlled routes such as painted paths, which help to keep you safe. A car park finder is available here.
  5. Try to avoid returning to your vehicle to leave your presents while you continue on, unfortunately thieves do watch for this sort of thing – leaving valuables in a car is never a good idea especially after you spent all that time and effort in choosing the right presents.
  6. Some car parks are not as well-lit as others so it’s a good idea to put your lights on and give your eyes time to adjust to the different light level. Keep a look out for pedestrians thinking more about their shopping list than their safety – especially excited children.
  7. Choose your parking neighbours and space carefully; a car which is looked after and in good condition is less likely to have a door open into yours. Also, although never on purpose, a car with child seats in it might have children who are not quite as careful in charge of the door.
  8. Reverse park or drive in? Use the option which suits you best – if you need to put your shopping in the boot when you return consider driving into the space, but be aware you need to exercise caution when reversing out.
  9. Unless it is a pay and display avoid leaving your ticket in the car and make sure you put it somewhere safe – if you are a regular at losing tickets, take a quick photo of it so you have all the details to hand just in case it is not your day again.
  10. If you have used a pay and display – set an alarm on your phone to remind you what time it runs out, it can be very easy to let time slip by without you noticing.


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