As the festive season approaches, the nation’s roads are set to be inundated with drivers embarking on their Christmas getaways.
A study by the RAC and INRIX predicts that a staggering 21 million leisure trips will be taken between today, December 18, and Christmas Eve, with 60% of these trips concentrated in the last three days before the big day.
This surge in traffic is expected to cause significant disruption, with congestion levels rising to an average of 20% above normal on key routes. Drivers around Greater London could experience even worse delays, with travel times up to double the usual.
The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, has urged drivers to plan carefully and avoid travelling during peak times if possible. “The best times to travel will be before 11 am and after 6 pm on both the 22nd and 23rd December when it’s hoped drivers will be able to reach their loved ones with slightly fewer tailbacks,” he advised.
Those who must travel during peak times are advised to allow extra time for their journey and to be patient and tolerant of other road users. It is also important to stay informed about traffic conditions and to follow the advice of Highways England and traffic management services.
In addition to road congestion, drivers should also be aware of the potential for delays at airports and railway stations. The RAC estimates that 5.5 million people will be flying domestically over the Christmas period, while 2.8 million will be taking trains. This could lead to long queues and delays at check-in desks, security, and baggage reclaim areas.
Despite the potential for disruption, drivers are still eager to make their Christmas getaways. The RAC’s research found that 83% of drivers plan to travel for Christmas, with 93% of those planning to drive rather than take public transport.
This strong preference for driving is due to several factors, including the flexibility and convenience of car travel, the ability to carry luggage and presents, and the lack of alternative transport options in many rural areas.
However, drivers should be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. By planning carefully, avoiding peak times, and being patient, they can minimize the disruption and ensure that their Christmas getaways are enjoyable and stress-free.