Written by Graham Cutbill-White
The great holiday exodus is almost upon us and whether it’s a long journey to visit relatives or just popping to the shops for last-minute presents, roads up and down the country are going to be jam-packed over Christmas.
Most of us would love to lock the doors, close the curtains and shut up shop over the festive period, but at one point we’re going to have to face those long queues, incessant beeping and the inevitable road rage that comes with driving at Christmas.
While we may not be able to avoid the streets entirely, there are some days over Christmas when you really should stay off the road.
With over 20 million vehicles expected on the road over the festive period, Transport analytics firm Inrix have predicted that the busiest traffic period will begin today (Wednesday, 20th December) and last until Friday, 22nd December.
That means that if you’re planning on hopping in the car over the next couple of days, you’ll want to either change your plans or stock up on plenty of snacks as you may be a while.
With Christmas Day falling on Monday this year, many drivers are heading off even earlier in an attempt to beat the usual getaway traffic over the weekend of the 23rd & 24th December, but this is expected to backfire and cause even more traffic, even earlier.
It’s not just festive drivers that will be clogging up our motorways over Christmas. As online shopping continues to be the go-to method for buying presents, more and more delivery vehicles will be seen on the road in the last few days before Christmas Day.
Delays on some roads between the 20th December and Friday 22nd December are expected to be as long as four hours.
Using their data, Inrix has predilected that the worse route would be the M6, southbound which is expected to face delays of 4 hrs & 21 mins. This means that a journey of around 65 miles, which should usually take just under an hour, will actually take drivers over 5 hrs to drive.
Here are some of the longest delays British drivers will be facing between the 20th and 22nd of December 2017.
Unfortunately, road users shouldn’t expect free lanes and empty roads after Christmas Day as delays are expected between Christmas and New Year.
With many families heading back after Boxing Day, as well as hundreds of thousands of shoppers hitting the high streets for the January sales, this period will be just as busy with Tuesday, 27th December in particular expected to be hit by big delays.
Currently the M25 clockwise is predicted to have the longest delays at around 3 hrs & 13 minutes on the day after Boxing Day.
Drivers are advised by Dr. Graham Cookson, Chief Economist at INRIX to:
“…use the latest real-time traffic technology to keep up to date with the situation on the roads. Drivers would be well advised to take alternative routes or avoid driving during peak times altogether.”
There is some good news, however, Highways England has announced that almost 400 miles of roadworks will be lifted over the festive period to help ease congestion.
This means that 99% of motorways and prominent A roads will be free of roadworks between the 22nd December and the 2nd January.