Staying Safe On The Roads This Christmas


The Law Of…Driving Safely This Christmas

Staying safe on the roads this Christmas is something everyone should make the time for. The darker nights, wilder weather conditions and various festivities are just a few things that could create problems on England's roads this year.

Julie Robertson, Head of Motoring Offences, explains how you can drive safely this Christmas.

Winter Is Here

We all want the picturesque white Christmas to finish the year with. While fresh snowfall makes for the idyllic scene when waking up on the 25th, especially for children, it can create problems for anyone driving.

The shorter winter days and wilder weather conditions reduce visibility, and all the snow, ice and sleet on the roads can dramatically reduce tire traction. On ice or snow, stopping distance is multiplied by ten, so diligently monitoring your speed is vital during winter.

While snow is immediately visible, certain types of ice are not. Black ice, for instance, is a thin and transparent layer of ice that appears the same colour as the road itself. Roads known for getting black ice are usually signposted, but this is not always the case.

It's also important to thoroughly defrost your windscreen during the winter before trying to drive anywhere. If you forget to defrost the windscreen in a morning before your commute to work, don’t be tempted to defrost the windshield with the heaters while you drive for fear of being late. There are plenty of practical tips you can use to clear your windscreen in the cold weather this year before you set off.

If weather conditions are bad, ask yourself whether the journey is really necessary. If it is unavoidable, make sure to have a fully charged mobile phone with you in case your vehicle becomes stuck.

Speed Isn't The Only Limit To Consider

Over the holiday season most people will be attending some sort of function, be it a work party, a night out with friends or simply driving over to a family member's house. At each of these gatherings, most people will likely have a few drinks to unwind. You may have no intention of drinking, until your friend or family member comes back from the bar. If you are the designated driver, don't subscribe to the mindset of "Just one won't hurt".

It's important to realise that "just one" is all it takes to put you over the legal limit or affect your reflexes and perception. In 2016, a fifth of young men admitted to driving after 2 or more drinks, needlessly endangering themselves and others. In England, the limit currently stands at:

  • 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath
  • 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
  • 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine

Many people think they know their tolerance levels with alcohol, but its effects on your body are governed by many things:

  • The strength of the alcohol
  • Age, weight, sex and metabolism
  • Your mood
  • What you recently ate

If you are accused of drink driving or refuse to provide a sample to a police officer, you will face criminal prosecution at court. It is important to consult a motoring offences legal specialist as soon as possible.

A Prescription Doesn’t Necessarily Make It Legal

You may use certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Even though they are obtained lawfully, they can still land you a drug driving charge if they or their dosage affects your ability to drive. As of 2015, certain brands of cough mixture can land you a drug driving charge if the dose is high enough. This law was introduced in an effort to lower drug driving deaths, which in 2015 saw an estimated 200 people a year being killed in drug driving accidents.

Julie comments:

"The Christmas season and run up to it always sees an increase in drink driving and the effects of a conviction can be truly catastrophic to people as it can affect their livelihoods and family commitments. I would urge people who are intending to consume alcohol whilst out to use public transport and to leave their car parked up if they are over the limit. I would also warn those who may have had a heavy night to exercise caution in driving the following day – especially when there may be the residual effects of alcohol in their system."

How Simpson Millar Can Help You This Christmas

Whilst we hope you can stay safe on the roads this Christmas, accidents can happen. If you have been charged with a drink or drug driving offence, or were recently in a traffic accident that was not your fault, our motor offence solicitors can help. Contact us today for a free consultation or fill out our online enquiry form.

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