Slade have made their annual return to our radios and there’s a festive chill in the air. The shops are stocked with toys, gift sets and our favourite seasonal foods and everyone is just that little bit merrier knowing that the holiday season is upon us!

On the run up to Christmas we are all guilty of spending more money and buying more! The tree, the food, the sweets, the presents and the booze! Essentially this means that more people are heading to the shops and more of everything needs to be delivered, whether that’s to the shops, to the supermarket, the manufacturers or directly to you from Amazon etc.

Christmas preparations mean we are going to be seeing an increased number of vans and trucks and motorists hitting our highways and our roads will be busier than ever. Whilst it’s not quite time for blasting out Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ yet, drivers will be carrying out their Santa Claus duties with the high pressure of making sure all their shopping is complete and deliveries are carried out in time for Christmas Day.

This time of year also happens to be the most challenging for drivers with the risks of snow, ice and severe weather warnings and road closures to contend with on top of the increased traffic.

Motorists want to make sure they leave plenty of time to defrost windscreens, and contend with the traffic and also driving that little bit more cautiously due to the inevitably icy conditions.

Professional drivers will be harder hit by the conditions due to tight delivery schedules and Operators need to allow for this when scheduling.

We all need to be winter savvy and be clued up on safe driving techniques and what to do when driving in the ice and snow but Operators need to make sure that they pass this on to their drivers. Remember the stopping distance increases 10 times in icy conditions! Braking should be slow and steady and drivers need to be extra alert for other vehicles who may have gotten into some difficulty.

Operators should also look to improve the traction and grips of their vehicles in the event of ice and snow, perhaps by introducing a temporary 4-5mm minimum tyre tread or even fitting winter tyres. It’s worth considering increasing safety inspections at this time of year and putting extra emphasis on the driver walk around checks making sure that brakes, wipers, tyres and lights are in peak condition.

Your drivers need to obtain weather information and keep up to date with any changing conditions. Operators should also give their drivers as much information as possible and keep them regularly updated where necessary. In high winds, routes should be planned to avoid exposed or high roads, particularly if the vehicle is high sided or empty.

A shovel, torch and warm clothes in the cab will never go amiss and drivers should consider keeping some food in the cab to prepare that they may come to a stop unexpectedly. Equally if drivers have any medical conditions which require medication they need to make sure they take plenty with them to allow for any delays that may occur.

And finally, one for Santa. Remember that while he’s in EU airspace he’s also required to have a working tachograph on his sleigh and his reindeers must ensure that they pass their emissions tests.

Seriously though, if you have any questions or need legal advice on staying legally safe please give us a call on 0115 910 6239 and our expert transport solicitors will be happy to point you in the right direction. Let’s all follow these top tips and ensure we are safe and home for a very Merry Christmas.