RAC urges caution as Christmas shoppers, families hit the roads

RAC is urging motorists to take extra care when venturing out this weekend as widespread snow and arctic temperatures have made driving especially treacherous. With many parts of Scotland, Wales and England already hit by snow, and more predicted for the South-west of England and southern counties, motorists should consider whether their journey is necessary or if it can be delayed until road conditions improve.

RAC is prepared for one of its busiest weekends this year as motorists battle the snow, ice and cold, venturing out to visit family and friends or finish their Christmas shopping. So far today, RAC has been busiest in Devon and Cornwall, South Wales around Cardiff and Swansea, the North Wales coast and Scotland.

RAC has extra Patrols out in force to help with the increased number of callouts. In response to the current weather forecasts, RAC’s winter contingency plans are again stepping into action. This includes:

  • Equipping patrols with tyre covers/snow chains
  • Additional 4x4s deployed in key areas ready for use
  • Increased technical support in RAC contact centres to enable more phone fixes at roadside

Of course, for many, this weekend will be the last chance to finish their Christmas shopping. As such, RAC is predicting increased congestion around major shopping centres including: 

  • M25 Essex - at junction 30 (Lakeside shopping)
  • M25 Kent - at junction 2 (Bluewater shopping)
  • M40 Oxfordshire - at junction 9 for Bicester (Bicester Village shopping)
  • Delays on the M1 at J34 for Meadowhall

RAC advises motorists planning on travelling this weekend to:

  • Check local weather and traffic conditions before setting off and if you can avoid the trip do so
  • Give yourself extra time and stick to the main roads where possible as they're the most likely to have been treated
  • If you're travelling any distance, let someone know where you're going and when you expect to arrive
  • Make sure your car windows and lights are clear from ice and snow
  • Take extra clothing in the car, food and drink, scraper and de-icer, a charged up mobile phone, torch and potentially a shovel
  • Drive only as fast as the conditions allow and remember stopping distances are longer in ice and snow
  • Black ice can just appear to be wet patches on the road surface and tends to form on bridges and overpasses where the cold air can pass above and beneath the road surface
  • If the noise from your tyres on the road suddenly becomes quiet, it may well be you are driving on ice
  • Gentle manoeuvres are key to safe driving in ice and snow - use your accelerator, brakes, steering and clutch as gently as possible
  • If you're unfortunate enough to skid, steer into the skid and avoid the temptation to slam on the brakes

RAC has around 2000 patrols across the UK who can be accompanied by media to get an accurate ‘view from the road.’  It also has spokespeople available in London and at its key operations centre, near Birmingham, with access to views across the M6 and RAC’s busy call centre.

RAC press office:
Erik Nelson 01603 681682264/07989 427086, Vicki Burn 01603 684224/07800 692909, Adrian Tink 01603 681922/07800 690602