Road safety charity IAM Roadsmart has put together a list of vital pointers to help you get home safe over the festive period.

Christmas time can be one of the busiest times on the UK's roads as (what feels like) everybody heads home to spend the festive period with their loved ones.

It's a time of the year that's supposed to be full of joy, but instead it is one of the most stressful. Thankfully Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards fro road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has put together an all-important list of helpful driving tips to make sure you get home safe this Christmas.

Cars on highway in traffic jam

"Careful planning and preparation can ensure your Christmas drive home is a safe and smooth one," said Gladman. "So long as you give yourself extra time at this busy time of year, your journey home doesn’t need to be as arduous."

"We all look forward to spending the festive season with loved ones so let’s all do our bit to make it a safe one for the road," he added.

Driver winter weather view with falling snow

IAM RoadSmart's festive driving tips:

  • Try and avoid setting off at peak times which includes early afternoon on Christmas Eve as this is when many motorists will start their journey. With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, you might be able to travel on a different day. Don’t forget to check for weather or traffic-related updates so you can allow more time to travel.

  • If you’re travelling a long distance then take into consideration that the weather in one region may not be the same as another. So plan for the whole length of your journey and take note of what the weather is like closer to your destination.
  • Before you set off, make sure your friends and family know where you are going and your expected time of arrival. Try to be as realistic as possible so they are not worrying about you if you get a little late, and always ensure you have enough fuel as some garages can close early.
  • Packing the car can leave you fraught. Make a check list of everything you need and try to ensure there are no loose parcels that could turn into missiles in the event of having to brake in an emergency.
  • Family pets pick up on the excitement of Christmas; remember they need seatbelts or a method of restraint too. Keep them away from where you pack the chocolate and mince pies as both are really bad for dogs and you don’t want to start Christmas with a large vet bill. Take a look at our tips for driving with pets.
  • Make sure you take regular rest breaks but avoid leaving valuable gifts on show by locking them away out of sight in the boot.
  • If you’re too tired to drive then delay your journey. And if you begin to feel tired on your journey, then take a rest break. A coffee and a 20 minute stop are the bare minimum to help you stay alert. In any case, your journey should be planned with breaks every 2 hours.
  • If the office party went on into the early hours then make sure you are not over the limit ‘the morning after’. You need at least one hour to remove each unit of alcohol from your body. Don’t risk it!
Santa Claus driving car