When you think of driving at Christmas, you’ll probably picture the low winter sun blinding you as it reflects off of the wet roads. Maybe a dusting of snow – possibly even a few centimetres of the fluffy white stuff! The danger of black ice, dark mornings and dark evenings. But Christmas driving varies wildly across the globe – so let’s explore!
Christmas comes to Oz in the height of their summer. In the areas of New South Wales, much of Victoria, Tasmania, the south-eastern corner of South Australia and the south-west of Western Australia, it wouldn’t be uncommon to celebrate Christmas in temperatures of 25 degrees and above! Tyres need to be well maintained in order to deal with the hot, dry conditions, and it’s important for engine coolant to be topped up – basically use British summer driving tips, but at Christmas!
Confusingly, in the north of the continent, December is classed as the wet season; scorching temperatures are mixed with heavy rain and even cyclones, so driving could prove very tricky indeed.
If a couple of centimetres of snow make you quiver at the knees, imagine heading to Canada for Christmas, where minus 25 degrees isn’t uncommon, and 15cm of snowfall can come down within one day. Winter tyres are essential – in parts of British Colombia and in Quebec, winter tyres are a legal requirement during the most adverse weather months.
Many people ditch their cars in favour of snow coaches, which are designed to travel across the frozen land in the depths of winter.
Continuing with the snowy theme, pop across the channel and over to France for the festive period and you’ll have extra things to think about!
The blood alcohol level is lower in France than in the UK, and drivers are legally required to carry a breathalyser in case they are stopped. You also need to carry:
- Reflective/high-vis jackets for everyone in the car
- A warning triangle
- A spare bulb kit
And in the beautiful French Alps, road signs will tell you when you legally need to be using winter tyres and snow chains – but the requirements change as the Alps pass through other European countries, so check before you drive!
Like Australia, Christmas is a summertime affair in Brazil, so barbeques on the beach are a tempting option for a festive dinner! Don’t get behind the wheel in your flip flops though – that is illegal, as is driving with your arm out of the window.
Driving in Brazil is more – let’s say – chaotic than us Brits are used to, so drivers need to be very alert and ready to react quickly to the often impulsive actions of others on the road!
Oymyakon in Siberia is officially the coldest permanently inhabited site in the world, with temperatures dropping below minus 50 degrees centigrade!
Driving is perilous at the best of times, and cars will freeze if left outside and not running – so if you fancy a festive trip there then take every layer of clothing that you own.
And then buy more!
Staying in the UK this Christmas? As with any country in any climate, the roads are busier over the holiday season, so prepare your car and yourself in advance of any road trips, check for any road incidents before you set off, familiarise yourself with the route, and be safe!