Posted: Thu 21st Dec 2023

Drivers set to make 21m Christmas getaway trips before the big day

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Dec 21st, 2023

Drivers are planning 21m festive getaways between today and Christmas Eve with 60% of these trips crammed into the last three days before the 25th, a study of 2,100 drivers by the RAC and INRIX suggests.

This year, with Christmas Day falling on a Monday, the pattern of travel is set to deviate from the norm.

Leisure traffic is projected to increase gradually over the week, with a sharp 43% rise from 2.2 million journeys on Thursday, December 21st, to 3.2 million on Friday, December 22nd.

This period, encompassing Friday 22nd through Christmas Eve, is anticipated to witness the most leisure journeys by car, estimated at a staggering 13.5 million – a 20% increase compared to the same period last year.

The situation on roads is expected to be particularly challenging on ‘Frantic Friday’, with 3.2 million Christmas Eve getaways coinciding with regular commuter traffic and the added influx of parents collecting children from school.

Despite a similar number of trips planned for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, around 3.5 million each, the absence of commercial, commuter, and school traffic should mitigate the risk of severe delays.

INRIX, specialists in transport analytics, have forecasted daily delays averaging 40 minutes between December 22nd and 24th on critical routes such as the M25 clockwise west of Greater London.

The worst congestion is anticipated along the M25 clockwise between the M23 for Gatwick and the M40 for Birmingham on December 23rd.

Drivers are also advised to brace for significant delays on the M1 north between Woburn to Daventry and the M6 south from Wigan to Stafford.

To avoid the heaviest traffic, the RAC and INRIX recommend traveling outside the peak hours of 12pm to 2pm during the pre-Christmas weekend.

The optimal travel times are before 11am and after 6pm on both December 22nd and 23rd.

Alice Simpson, RAC Breakdown spokesperson, emphasises the importance of early travel on Saturday and Sunday and advises drivers to perform essential vehicle checks before embarking on long journeys.

She also highlights the removal of the majority of roadworks from high-speed roads by National Highways as a positive step, though warns of a potential increase in breakdowns due to the higher volume of traffic.

Bob Pishue, an INRIX transportation analyst, warns of travel times being up to 20% longer during the holiday season, particularly around Greater London, where times could more than double.

He recommends avoiding peak commuting hours and using traffic apps to minimise holiday travel frustrations.


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