Everyone knows that the holidays are a crazy time of year to be one the road, and since the haulers often fill the role of gift deliverer, they are also one of the most busy. Whether you are driving a car, taking a single load across the city, or filling return loads down the entire length of the country, the safety of the drivers and passengers on the highways is one of the most important elements of holiday driving. But this increase in road traffic doesn't necessarily mean that it is a 'worse' time of year to drive. In fact, in many ways the holidays can be one of the best times, with many joys and unexpected benefits.
Road rage is not fun. When you are hauling return loads you are bound to see angry drivers and probably some very rash behaviour. But, during the holidays, even though there is more traffic and more people to contend with, the holiday spirit can take hold. Those who might be prone to road rage might have their tempers quelled by the well-placed antler hat on a driver, or a glimpse of a passenger with a festive sweater on their way to a holiday event. In addition to the lessening of anger on the roads, there is a renewed sense of community that is shared by those travelling. And even if you are running return loads and not on your way home for the holidays, you will surreptitiously become a part of the good cheer. To see the manifestation of this, expect to hear more whistling of holiday tunes at filling stations, and more people offering each other help when otherwise they might not.
One of the major hazards of hauling cargo and return loads during the holiday season is the worry of ice on the roads, and worse, the way that other, less experienced drivers may react to it. While this is a legitimate worry, and may cause you to slow your speed a bit while travelling in very cold, elevated, or more congested areas, it becomes apparent that everyone is in the same position as you. This is evident in the camaraderie that occurs when one driver has trouble. Often during this time of year, if one person slides off the road or has pulled over for some reason, others will stop to offer assistance in a way that might not be replicated outside of the holiday season.
Finally, of course one of the best parts of hauling return loads in the holiday season are the many games that you can play to keep yourself entertained on the road. For instance, you and your passengers can play 'spot the bad holiday sweater' at the filling stations and rest stops; count the number of times Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' plays on the radio; or give into your desire to sing along to your favourite holiday tunes at the top of your voice.
If all else fails and you still can't get that festive spirit on the road, it only takes a glance at your fellow motorists in their Santa hats and Rudolph sweaters to make you remember what Christmas is all about. Safe driving.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for haulage companies and drivers across the UK and Europe. It provides services for matching back loads and to buy and sell road transport and delivery work in the domestic and international markets.