Traffic experts are predicting chaos on the roads over the festive season as millions of people make journeys to see loved ones up and down the country. Research carried out by the RAC and traffic analysis firm Inrix suggests that Thursday 20th and Friday 21st will be the worst days for congestion, with 2.5 million and 2.8 million vehicles driving across the country respectively.
Inrix data scientist Joshua Kidd said: “Our data shows that compared to a normal day, Thursday 20th December will see the biggest increase in cars on the road. With most drivers setting out mid-morning, traffic will become heavier over the course of the afternoon and stay congested into the evening. But it’s not just those off to see family and friends. Commuters, last-ditch shoppers and online deliveries will contribute to clogging the roads.”
Based on the data, those driving on the M6 between Staffordshire and Greater Manchester may be delayed up to 181 minutes on Thursday. While on Friday, travellers taking the M40 south from the M42 in Warwickshire to J8A at Oxford face delays of 110 minutes.
Highways England is aiming to lift more than 200 miles of roadworks by 6am on Friday to ensure that more than 97% of the motorway and A-road network is open for the festive dash.
To help you make your festive trip safely and efficiently, we have shared our top tips for dealing with traffic at Christmas.
Plan your trip
Before making any long journey, you should plan ahead to ensure you are prepared for any potential delays or roadworks. Check the route you plan on taking before travelling so you can plan around any issues that have or may arise.
Time your trip right
As mentioned above, most drivers will be setting out mid-morning, so it might be worth delaying your journey to avoid congestion. If you’re planning on making a journey on Christmas Eve, why not set out the evening before when the roads are likely to be quieter.
Make sure you’re in a fit state
Drink driving is a massive problem at any time of the year, but with full social calendars at Christmas, incidents increase. If you’ve been drinking alcohol the night before driving, you need to be aware the morning after that you may not be sober enough to drive.
Check the conditions
During the Christmas break, it’s likely that road conditions may be difficult to navigate as snow, rain and ice make surfaces slippery, while shorter days and heavy rainfall can limit visibility. Check the forecast before you travel and if severe weather is planned, you might need to rethink your plans.
To help you with tackling winter travel, take a look at our Winter Travel Checklist.
Take care of your car
For some people, Christmas means there is no need to travel, so the car won’t be used as often as normal. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to check your car every couple of days to make sure it will start if you end up needing it.
Most importantly, Christmas is an important time to relax and enjoy, so try not to worry too much if you do have to travel. If you’re travelling with children, keep them entertained with snacks, games or films, or put together a festive playlist that you can all sing along to.