Driving home for Christmas?
Actually, probably not. Despite Chris Rea’s prediction of being “top to toe in tailbacks” , new research by Green Flag reveals that 22 per cent of the UK population will actually be prevented from seeing at least some of their friends or family this Christmas because they simply cannot afford the fuel charges.
That’s right. Green Flag interviewed 2005 people and discovered that 10.8 million people will be apart from friends and family this Christmas as a result of spiralling motoring costs. Either those 2005 people have a LOT of friends and family, or that’s some fairly hefty extrapolation.
However, it is fair to say that the cost of fuel is perhaps more of an issue than last year- fuel prices having risen 6.4 per cent since the start of the year, and more than a fifth of those questioned said this would prevent them from celebrating with at least some of their loved ones. A further 19 per cent say they would like to visit friends or family but won't because of the high cost of bus and rail travel and 16 per cent say that expensive air-fares will preclude them from travelling to see at least some of their family and friends. Assuming these are all different friends and family, this means over half of the population will be sitting at home on their own counting their precious travel-savings over the festive period.
The survey also found that those who do travel to see loved ones this Christmas will spend considerable amounts of time and money getting there: the average amount spent on travel will be £49 and the average journey time, 4.2 hours. Clearly, you are not as popular with your rellys as you thought, if they have all moved hundreds of miles to get away from you.
Miranda Schunke from Green Flag, said: "Spiralling fuel and travel costs are set to have a real impact on some friends and families getting together over Christmas. The festive season burns a big enough hole in family pockets as it is, so it's no surprise that public transport and fuel costs have tipped the balance for many festive celebrations this year.”
But she also looked on the bright side "UK roads tend to get extremely busy around Christmas, as does public transport, so it is possible that this slightly reduced number of people travelling over the festive season will make the journeys of those who are on the move safer and, in the case of public transport, a little more pleasant." Result.
But if you do decide your nearest and dearest are worth spending a few quid on petrol, Green Flag, in the spirit of Christmas, have come up with some tips for saving fuel on your trip, and we have added our Bitterwallet two-penneth as well:
Reduce unnecessary weight - if there are still items for the charity shop in the boot - take them out! Leave fat and bloated relatives at home.
Only buy as much fuel as you need, think F1 - the more fuel on board, the more weight the vehicle is carrying around. Leave fat and bloated relatives at home (as above). Make sure you don’t run out of fuel though, as then you may need to call a friendly, helpful car breakdown company. The sort who offer you tips on how to save fuel. Or something.
Check all tyres have the correct amount of air, too much or too little can be unsafe and can affect fuel efficiency. Leave fat and bloated relatives at home. They squash tyres.
Be slick: Reduce external drag by improving the aerodynamics. Keep windows closed and lose the roof rack. This might prove more difficult than you anticipate given the prevalence of sprout-eating at this time of year. Do you want to save fuel or breathe- you decide.
Make sure the vehicle is serviced regularly to ensure that it is running in top condition. Or don’t, and just call your friendly and helpful car breakdown service when your engine packs up on the M5.
You and how you drive
Drive smoothly, with anticipation; avoid braking, keep the revs down and use the right gear.
Lift off the accelerator as often as possible and stay at or below the speed limit and use cruise control on long drives.
Plan a journey and avoid traffic jams. Because without this tip you were going to look for jams weren’t you.
"Use the Green Flag iPhone app for free traffic updates and visit our website for our free route planner." Friendly and helpful, see. Who else would you call in a breakdown situation?