New research by the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has discovered that many motorists will rush to make last minute car travel plans for the Christmas period this year, while others will make fewer stops when driving long journeys.

The charity’s survey of 1,000 drivers in the UK investigated the impact COVID-19 will have on people’s travel plans over this year’s festive season, with some worrying safety issues emerging.

Among the most alarming findings are that almost seven-in-ten drivers (69%) are still waiting to make firm travel plans until they have clearer guidelines from the Government on travel restrictions that may affect them, giving them less time to prepare for potentially long journeys and make critical vehicle safety checks.


At the same time, four-in-ten (40%) long-distance drivers who travel more than 150 miles over Christmas and who would routinely stop during their journey at services or other types of outlet, such as cafes or pubs for lunch and refreshments, have decided that they will not do so this year due to concerns over the Coronavirus and social distancing.

The decision not to break long journeys is most prevalent among men, with more than half (56%) of male drivers surveyed saying they will not stop this year when they would have normally done so, compared to around a quarter (27%) of women.

Regionally, it is drivers from Scotland and London who are most likely to forego stops for breaks during long journeys during Christmas this year, with 67% and 64% respectively saying they will not break their journeys due to Coronavirus safety concerns.

With more than a quarter (27%) of all drivers still intending to travel more than 100 miles over the Christmas period this year, a lack of planning and not stopping for breaks could have serious road safety implications.


Neil Greig, Policy and Research Director at the charity, said: “Our research shows that unsurprisingly COVID-19 will have a significant impact on travel plans over Christmas this year.

“While it’s understandable that ongoing uncertainty and safety concerns over exposing relatives to the virus has caused many people to postpone their planning, it is important that critical safety steps, such as making vehicle maintenance checks and stopping regularly during long journeys are not overlooked.”


Neil added: “Taking a break on a long car journey is essential for the driver, and passengers, to recharge their batteries. Spending too long behind-the-wheel in one stint can lead to drowsiness and a loss of concentration with potentially catastrophic consequences for all road users. Our advice is to take at least a 15-minute break every two hours.

“The festive season is a busy period for many of us, and this year it will likely be even more challenging as Coronavirus continues to impact our everyday lives. But road safety and – taking sensible precautions – is everyone’s responsibility when driving, no matter what other pressures are at play. So, we urge everyone to make sure they leave time for important safety measures as they make their travel plans this Christmas.”