WITH the school year ending and many more people expected to have “staycations” during the coronavirus pandemic Highways England is urging motorists to check their vehicles before travelling this summer.
Routes to the South West are expected to be especially busy this summer as the region tops the list of ‘staycation’ destinations.
Nearly 20 per cent of breakdowns on Highways England roads between July and August last summer were caused by tyre problems and more than 1,200 motorists broke down over the same period because they ran out of fuel.
Latest weekly sentiment research by VisitBritain/VisitEngland shows that coastal and seaside towns and countryside and village destinations are popular destinations being considered for a domestic break with the South West of England and Scotland leading. Caravanning and camping are also popular.
Routes leading to popular beaches and beauty spots on sunnier days could also be busy as people plan day trips.
Before you set off on a journey, Highways England’s advice is:
Do your vehicle safety checks
Check loads are safely secured
Check travel conditions
If you are towing:
Check you have the correct licence and insurance to tow whatever the weight
Check your vehicle is connected correctly
Check the load is secure and within the limits for the vehicle.
Richard Leonard, Highways England Head of Road Safety, Safety, Engineering & Standards, said:“It’s likely to be a busy weekend so if you are taking to the road make sure you check conditions before you travel and try and leave plenty of time for your journey.
“If you haven’t driven for a while due to lockdown, you might feel a bit strange getting back behind the wheel, and your vehicle will need a few simple checks to ensure it’s roadworthy.
“Checking your tyres, oil, water, lights and fuel doesn’t take long – but it will help keep you and your loved ones safe.
“And if you’re on a long journey, remember to take breaks. Let’s all enjoy summer safely.”
Highways England operates, maintains and improves England’s motorways and major A roads and principal routes to the South West include the M5, M4, A303 and A30, with routes to Scotland via the east of England on the M1, A1, A1M, or west using the M6.
Highways England traffic officers will be patrolling England’s motorways to deal with any incidents.
The Camping and Caravanning Club and Caravan and Motorhome Club have backed the advice to check before you travel.
Ian Hewlett, Technical Manager at The Camping and Caravanning Club, said:“It’s vitally important to check your leisure vehicle over before any journey but especially so given the amount of time these vehicles have been idle recently. We would urge people to pay particular attention to tyres, brakes and lights and electrical connections before setting off on holiday.”
Harvey Alexander, Director of Marketing at the Caravan and Motorhome Club, said: “Part of the fun of a leisure vehicle holiday is the excitement as you get ready to leave on your next adventure. Make sure the journeys to and from your destination are positive ones by preparing your vehicle properly and planning your route effectively. Safe, reliable and trouble-free journeys mean a more enjoyable holiday.”
VisitEngland has launched a Know Before You Go public information campaign to support tourism in England as businesses reopen, reassuring visitors as restrictions are lifted by checking what it is safe to do and when, and sign-posting to information about destinations and available services before travelling.
If you’re getting back on the road for a day trip, Highways England has issued helpful advice to help you stay safe.
Highways England provides real time traffic information at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/traffic
Journey planning advice, including making sure vehicles are ready for the road, can be found here: https://www.think.gov.uk/campaign/vehicle-safety-checks/
You can find information about how to avoid tailgating by giving fellow road users enough space here: https://highwaysengland.co.uk/staysafestayback/
Advice about loading your vehicle safely, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/load-securing-vehicle-operator-guidance/load-securing-vehicle-operator-guidance
Towing advice: https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-car