RAC Cars News


Christmas Getaway Traffic Nightmare

By raccars Published

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Britain's already congested roads are set to get up to three times worse from Friday 19 December, as families embark upon Christmas getaways. Traffic analysts, INRIX, have predicted that the Friday afternoon from 4pm will be the busiest time over the whole Christmas, with up to 20 million vehicles on the road.

Motorists are being warned that travel times on major roads could treble as a result of the extra traffic, which will be a combination of the usual Friday evening peak plus the start of school holidays and workers starting their Christmas break early. Tuesday 23 and Saturday 27 December are also expected to be extra busy on the highways.

The UK's main motorways are those likely to be worst affected by the extra traffic, including the M1, M25 ad M6. While travelling the M25 anti-clockwise from junction 23 to junction 10 usually takes about 40 minutes, during peak Christmas traffic drivers should plan for the same journey to take about two hours 20 minutes. Where speed limits in this stretch are 70mph, traffic is expected to travel as slow as 18mph, even though extra lanes have been added.

The M1 northbound from junction 21 to junction 32 will see the 60 mile stretch take about two hours and 25 minutes, rather than the usual hour. Drivers travelling eastbound on the M56 around junction 9 and northbound on the M5 at junction 3 will see journey times rise from 15 minutes on an average day, to 55 minutes and average speeds of 14mph. The westbound A4 out of London will see drivers travelling the 14.5 mile section from Hyde Park Corner to Heathrow Airport spend an hour and 15 minutes in traffic, rather than the usual 35 minutes. Up north, a 17 mile stretch of the northbound A1 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne will take 45 minutes to travel rather than 20 minutes and the average speed will fall to 22mph.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day usually see roads quieten down somewhat but traffic tends to build up again for 27 December thanks to sales shoppers and those returning home after spending Christmas away. Traffic on the roads this year is likely to be made even worse by disruption to major rail networks, meaning passengers have to find alternative transport.

INRIX is advising drivers to try and avoid travelling on the roads the afternoon of Friday 19 December between 12 noon-6pm. Those who must travel then should try to find an alternative route to avoid main roads.

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