Jams expected as more than 20 million drivers plan Christmas getaway

17/12/18Jams expected as more than 20 million drivers plan Christmas getaway

More than 20 million journeys are planned over the coming week with traffic expected to peak on Friday. However, those heading off for the festive season will be relived to hear that Highways England is removing 200 miles of roadworks.

Research suggests a staggered spread of getaway traffic throughout the week, peaking towards the weekend as large volumes of everyday commuter traffic combine with people making leisure journeys. Consequently, Thursday 20th and the festive but ‘frantic’ Friday 21st are likely to be some of the worst days with 2.5 million and 2.8 million individual journeys expected to be taken.

Data from travel analytics specialists INRIX indicates Wednesday through to Friday will see some significant congestion on major roads, with drivers travelling on the M25, M6 and M40 all likely to face long delays. On Thursday, delays of up to three hours are expected on one section of the northbound M6, while on Friday part of the southbound M40 could see drivers queuing for more than an hour and a half.

Over Christmas, traffic is likely to peak on Boxing Day when some 6.8 million individual trips will be made as drivers cross the country to see family and friends, followed by Thursday 27th December when 4.4 million journeys are expected to be taken.

RAC patrol of the year, Mark Souster, said: “The run-up to Christmas is traditionally a very busy time on the roads and for us as Patrols, and 2018 looks to be no exception – although our data suggests drivers are planning on getting away early in some cases and spreading their journeys across a number of days, which would certainly be no bad thing.

“It’s vitally important every driver planning a trip gives their car a once over to make sure it’s up to the job, as a single breakdown can bring some roads to a grinding halt, slowing down the Christmas getaway for all of us. A few moments spent checking things like fuel, oil, coolant and screenwash levels and the condition and pressure of tyres could make the difference between a stress-free journey and one plagued by a breakdown. It might feel like yet another thing to think about before Christmas but it’s a fact that many of the breakdowns we see are avoidable if drivers just do these few checks before they set out.”

Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, added: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible for this Christmas getaway and that’s why we’re keeping more than 97 per cent of our road network free from roadworks.”




Planned leisure trips

Worst times to travel

Best times to travel

Worst road for long delays

Wed 19th December


3pm to 6.30pm

After 7.30pm

M25 clockwise from J20 to J28 from 3.30pm. Up to 80min delay

Thu 20th December


11.30am to 6.30pm

After 8pm

M6 north J15 to J25 from 12.30pm. Up to 181min delay

Fri 21th December


11.30am to 6pm

After 7.30pm

M40 south from M42 Warwickshire to J8A (Oxford). Up to 110min delay

Sat 22nd December


10.30am to 4pm

Before 9.30am or after 7.30pm

M40 north from J8A (Oxford) to M42 Warwickshire. Up to 61min delay

Sun 23th December


4pm to 6.30pm

Before 11am or after 8pm


Mon 24th December


11am to 1pm

At other times

M1 north J21 (Coventry/Leicester) to J26 (Nottingham/Ripley). Up to 22min delay


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