With fatalities on the road reaching a six-year high last winter, Thompsons Solicitors is urging motorists to stay safe while travelling over the Christmas period.

The festive period is traditionally the most stressful for motorists as they try to deal with winter weather, increased traffic volumes and family tension, while often driving long distances to visit extended family and friends. This, coupled with driving on unfamiliar roads and an increased chance of meeting a driver under the influence of alcohol, driving during the Christmas period can be fraught with danger and can result in a significantly higher risk of being involved in a road traffic accident.

Research from the Department for Transport (DfT) has found that there were 369 road traffic accident fatalities in November and December 2014, which was the highest rate for that period since 2008. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the number of pedestrian deaths nearly doubled from 39 in October 2014 to 73 in December the same year.

Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “With all of the stress that people face during the festive period, it’s not a surprise that the number of road accidents can increase. With that in mind, we would urge motorists to take extra precautions when travelling at this time of year, as the combination of stress, bad weather and social events can all begin to mount up.

“However, the government needs to act too. It needs to ensure that local authorities have sufficient funds to keep roads in good condition and that police forces countrywide have resources to patrol those roads to catch any motorists flouting the law.

“Sadly it seems that the Tory government is more preoccupied with attacking road accident victims’ right to legal representation by increasing the small claims limit in motor cases from £1,000 to £5,000. This is one of countless examples where the lobbying power of the insurance industry is winning over fairness, unfairly punishing those who have genuinely been injured in a road accident.”