Police are urging motorists to prepare well for driving these holidays and to be especially aware of the dangers of fatigue.
"We ask drivers to take care every year at this time," said Inspector Carey Griffiths, National Road Policing Operations Manager,
"but each year there are families whose Christmas break is characterised by tragedy."
Some of the most dangerous issues around driving at this time are the numbers on the roads and also the stress that many drivers are under.
Many people do not stop to prepare properly for the journey and fatigue can pose serious risks for everyone.
"'Normal' levels of tiredness aren't usually perceived as harmful, especially at this time of year. The majority of drivers are unaware of the symptoms of fatigue that lead to poor concentration and poor judgement on the road."
"If they consider fatigue, they also believe they can control tiredness by doing things like winding down windows or drinking coffee."
However, fatigue is a serious road safety issue and the need for sleep is beyond conscious control. In 2006, it killed more than 40 people and injured nearly 1000 people.
The most common effects of fatigue on driving are the difficulty of keeping the vehicle within its lane, drifting off the road, frequent and unnecessary changes in speed and not reacting in time to a dangerous situation.
"Sensible precautions such as ensuring that you have time to make the journey without rushing, being as courteous and patient as possible, taking breaks and driving with your lights on will all help to ensure that you get there safely," said Inspector Griffiths today.
Police will be out in force over the holiday period and will prosecute every driver caught speeding or driving without a safety belt to deter unsafe driving which puts lives at risk.
For further information:
Media pager: 026 101082
Lesley Wallis -Communications Manager - Road Policing
The official holiday period will begin at 1600 hrs on Monday 24 December 2007 and end at 0600 hrs Thursday 3 January 2008.