The British Summer Getaway is sadly now associated with traffic delays and frustration. We have all seen (and perhaps experienced personally) the long, long delays at Dover this year – 15 miles of tailbacks with some travellers being forced to wait for 15 hours before being able to board the ferry. The unprecedented levels of chaos this time was blamed on the increased security checks at Calais, but each year Kent and many other main routes across the UK have us grid-locked in our cars with nowhere to go.
The primary concern for drivers is of course the welfare of their passengers, so the advice is to set out with plenty of water, food and some blankets in case you are held up for few hours.
Another consideration before setting off on holiday is to check your car over. Check oil levels, engine coolant is topped up, check brake fluid, washer fluid and power steering fluid levels. Check your lights, wipers and electricals are all working and check your tyre pressures are correct for the load you have in your car.
If you are unfortunate enough to be stuck in a jam for an extended length of time, you can help prevent additional problems, such as the car overheating or running out of fuel whilst nose-to-tail, by following these great advice tips:
1. Save fuel by switching off the engine when you are stationary for more than a few minutes.
2. Having the air-con on uses fuel, so although you may want to be kept cool in your car when you don’t have airflow through the fans or windows, this is an inefficient use of fuel.
3. Keep a good stopping distance behind the car in front. If the car in front of you breaks down, you will need some space to manoeuvre around it.
4. If you are stationary and it is safe to get out of your car, then just be aware that emergency vehicles may use the hard shoulder, and bikes may also decide to weave through the stationary traffic. Keep young children and pets in close proximity, and check your mirrors before opening a door!
5. Accelerate smoothly when in slow moving traffic, don’t surge forwards and then break heavily. This will improve fuel economy and is much safer for all vehicles around you.
6. Turn off as many vehicle electrics as you can (air con, radio, seat warmers, etc), as having them on will put more strain on the car battery over a period of time.
Getting stuck in traffic is the worst part of going on holiday, but if you leave the house prepared – both mentally and physically, and you have confidence that your vehicle won’t let you down, then you will find you will cope with the inconvenience and frustration of the situation so much better!
We really hope you don’t get stuck this summer, but if you do – remember these top tips and enjoy a fabulous break when you finally arrive!