Driving home for Christmas? RAC Warns of Peak Traffic!

Driving home for Christmas? RAC Warns of Peak Traffic!

Anticipate a substantial increase in leisure traffic this week, surging by 43% from 2.2 million journeys on Thursday (December 21) to 3.2 million on Friday (December 22), according to the latest projections from the RAC. As Christmas Eve getaways match Friday's numbers at 3.2 million, it is crucial to note that Friday will be notably busier, as holiday travellers share the roads with regular commercial, commuter, and school traffic. 

In a comprehensive analysis conducted by the RAC and Inrix, it has been revealed that drivers are gearing up for 21 million festive getaways between today and Christmas Eve. Remarkably, 60% of these trips are expected to be squeezed into the final three days leading up to December 25. 

Transport analytics specialists Inrix indicate daily delays of approximately 40 minutes from Friday to Sunday on the M25 clockwise west of Greater London. The most significant bottleneck, with delays of up to an hour, is foreseen along the M25 clockwise between the M23 for Gatwick and M40 for Birmingham on Saturday. Additionally, drivers heading anti-clockwise between J17-J12 on the same day should brace themselves for extended waits of around half an hour. 

For those travelling on the M1 North from Woburn to Daventry and the M6 South from Wigan to Stafford, significant delays are anticipated in the days leading up to Christmas. 


The pre-Christmas weekend is expected to see the peak of congestion between 12 pm and 2 pm on most major routes. Both the RAC and Inrix strongly advise drivers to avoid travel during lunchtime. Optimal travel times are recommended before 11 am and after 6 pm on both Friday and Saturday (December 22 and 23). 

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson emphasises the importance of early departure on Saturday and Sunday, noting that with Christmas falling on a Monday this year, there is no need for drivers to use annual leave for getaway trips. 

National Highways is taking proactive measures by removing over 1,000 miles of roadworks ahead of the festive getaway. This initiative aims to ensure that more than 98% of motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks during the Christmas break. Noteworthy routes benefiting from the removal of roadworks include the A3 in Hindhead, the M27 between junctions 2 and 3 (near Southampton), the M4 between junctions 13 and 12 (near Newbury), and the A1 from A47 Wansford to Stibbington (near Peterborough). 

Bob Pishue, Inrix transportation analyst, advises drivers to anticipate travel times up to 20% longer this holiday season, with Greater London experiencing more than double the typical drive times. To minimise holiday travel frustrations, Pishue recommends avoiding peak commuting hours and utilising traffic apps for real-time updates.