Safety fears as drivers plan to avoid taking breaks due to Covid worries

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th December 2020, 4:18 pm

Drivers could be putting their own safety and that of others at risk this Christmas if they avoid taking breaks on long journeys.

A leading road safety group has raised fears that motorists making long journeys around Christmas plan to skip stops due to fears around Covid-19.

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Research by IAM Roadsmart found that 40 per cent of drivers who expect to travel more than 150 miles and who would usually take a break have decided not to stop this year due to concerns over the virus and social distancing.

Whether it was a break at a service station, coffee shop or longer stop for lunch at a cafe or restaurant, 57 per cent of men said they would miss the break and push on to their destination without stopping. Only around a quarter of women (27 per cent) said they would do the same.

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Neil Greig, policy and research director at the charity, said: “Our research shows that unsurprisingly Covid-19 will have a significant impact on travel plans over Christmas this year.

“Taking a break on a long car journey is essential for the driver, and passengers, to recharge their batteries. Spending too long behind-the-wheel in one stint can lead to drowsiness and a loss of concentration with potentially catastrophic consequences for all road users. Our advice is to take at least a 15-minute break every two hours.”

The research also found many motorists were putting off making a decision on their holiday travel plans due to uncertainty around the virus and lockdown restrictions.

Almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) are still waiting to make firm travel plans until they have clearer guidelines from the Government on travel restrictions that may affect them. Neil Greig warned that this last-minute decision making could give them less time to prepare for potentially long journeys and make critical vehicle safety checks.

He added: “While it’s understandable that ongoing uncertainty and safety concerns over exposing relatives to the virus has caused many people to postpone their planning, it is important that critical safety steps, such as making vehicle maintenance checks and stopping regularly during long journeys are not overlooked.

“The festive season is a busy period for many of us, and this year it will likely be even more challenging as Coronavirus continues to impact our everyday lives. But road safety and – taking sensible precautions – is everyone’s responsibility when driving, no matter what other pressures are at play. So, we urge everyone to make sure they leave time for important safety measures as they make their travel plans this Christmas.”