Almost a third (29 percent) of football supporters expect to travel more than 300 miles to away games over the new season and 16 percent plan to travel a total of more than 500 miles to attend away games, according to research by Highways England.
With 67 percent of those travelling to away games saying they get there by car, Highways England is reminding football fans to carry out simple vehicle checks and to remember the basic rules of motorway driving to stay safe.
Only 18 percent of fans surveyed by Highways England said they check their vehicles every time they set off for an away game and seven percent said they never check their vehicles before heading off for away games.
“The start of the football season is a highlight of the year for supporters across the country and for many signals the start of hundreds of miles travelling home and away with their clubs,” said Melanie Clarke, Customer Service Director at Highways England. “We want everyone’s journeys to games to be as safe and smooth as possible – the excitement should be on the pitch not on the way there – and we need drivers to play their part.”
The 2019/2020 English Football League season got underway during the first weekend of August for many clubs while the Premier League kicks off next weekend.
A new Highways England safety campaign highlights the basics of motorway driving, including what to do if you break down, keeping left except when overtaking, and obeying red X and variable speed limit signs. The campaign is backed by the Football Association (FA).
Tom Legg, FA Head of Transport, said: “The FA are delighted to support Highways England’s campaign to promote safe driving across the motorway network. Hundreds of thousands of football supporters follow their team up and down the country every weekend, and the journey to and from the stadium is an integral part of the matchday experience.”
Highways England recommends the following vehicle checks:
Tyres: ensure tyre pressures are suitable for the load and check the condition of tyres, including the spare. Look out for cuts or wear and make sure the tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, which is the legal limit
Engine oil: check oil levels regularly and top up if needed. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual
Water: always keep your screen wash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen
Lights: if your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. In addition, your vehicle may fail its MoT
Fuel: before setting out make sure you have enough fuel to get to your destination
Highways England’s tips for motorway driving
- Never drive in a lane closed by a red X
- Keep to the speed limits shown on the gantries or signs
- A hard shoulder is always identified by a solid white unbroken line – if there’s no speed limit displayed above it or a red X is displayed, do not use it except in emergency
- A broken white line indicates a normal running lane
- If the hard shoulder is being used as an extra lane, use the designated emergency areas for emergencies
- If your vehicle experiences difficulties, eg warning light, exit the motorway immediately, if you can safely do so
- Most breakdowns are preventable – keep your car well maintained, check your tyres and make sure you have enough fuel for your journey. Don’t stop except in an emergency. If you have to stop make sure you know what to do.