27th January 2022

Stay safe and sober on the road this Christmas

Somerset County Council’s road safety team is sending out an important message to drivers – keep safe on the county’s roads this Christmas.

As part of this year’s campaign variable message signs (VMS) will be used on roads around Taunton and Bridgwater to deliver some key reminders to drivers to steer clear of illegal and dangerous behaviour, including drink or drug driving or using a mobile phone whilst driving.

With the return of Christmas socialising, drivers need to ensure they’re not tempted to drive home after drinking. Your ability to drive safely can be affected after just one drink, and the effects of alcohol can also be felt the morning after a night out. The message is clear – get a taxi or designate a driver.

A recent change in the law now means you’ll get hit with a £200 fixed penalty and six points on your licence if you’re caught using a mobile phone in your hand whilst in charge of a vehicle.

Winter weather can make travelling a hazardous affair so if you are undertaking a journey this Christmas to see family, check the weather, load your vehicle sensibly and allow time for rest breaks if you’re going a long way.

If you have a long journey ahead of you do some simple maintenance checks before setting off. Think ‘FLOWERS’:

  • F (Fuel): Make sure you have enough for your journey.
  • L (Lights): Ensure they are clean and working properly. If they’re faulty others won’t know what manoeuvres you are planning on making and your visibility will be severely restricted.
  • O (Oil): The correct level of oil prevents your vehicle’s engine from seizing up so top up before you see the oil pressure light come on.
  • W (Water): Check the coolant and windscreen washer fluid levels. It’s important to keep your windscreen as clean as possible to ensure you have good visibility.
  • E (Electrics): Problems with the battery are one of the most common reasons for a breakdown so ensure yours is in good working order.
  • R (Rubber): Check tyres to ensure they have the correct pressures and tread depths. We recommend getting tyres changed at a minimum tread depth of 3mm.
  • S (Self): Ask yourself: ‘Am I fit to drive?’ Illness, fatigue, alcohol, drugs and medication can all affect your ability to drive safely.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet member for Highways said: “It’s coming up to Christmas time and the last thing anyone wants is a collision or breakdown, particularly if they can be avoided. Following this advice can ensure that you stay safe this year, meaning you can instead concentrate on the important things like having a wonderful Christmas.

“Importantly, please do not drink if you’re driving – it’s just not worth the risk. If you do, you are compromising your safety and the safety of others. There have been nine drink driving deaths in Somerset in the last five years and that’s nine too many.”

For more information on road safety in Somerset, please visit www.somersetroadsafety.org. You can also find Somerset Road Safety on Facebook (www.facebook.com/somersetroadsafety), Twitter (www.twitter.com/SCC_RoadSafety), or Instagram (www.instagram.com/somersetroadsafety).