Inrix has revealed that the Christmas getaway could take drivers up to three times longer with the majority of Britain’s 35 million vehicles expected on the roads ahead of the festive season, causing congestion across the UK.
According to the latest Iinrix data, this year’s Christmas exodus will be busiest between 12pm and 5pm on Friday December 20 when up to 20 million drivers will travel home early from work or head away for the festivities, including many who don’t normally travel at peak times. The South East will be worst hit with congestion on major routes set to be up to four times more severe.
"The M25 will see the worst traffic ahead of the Christmas period – on Friday December 20, a typical one hour journey clockwise around the western stretch is likely to take three times longer," said Chris Lambert, UK traffic analyst at Inrix.
"Drivers should expect heavy traffic on routes heading to the UK’s major airports, especially Heathrow, which on the 20th December, one of the busiest days for most airlines, could see a one hour or more delay on the M4 as well as on the A4 as far back as White City in Central London."
The second busiest day on the roads before Christmas according to Inrix data will be Thursday December 19, with the heaviest traffic expected between 4pm and 6pm
"If you must drive on the busiest days our advice is to seek alternative routes,” added Lambert. "Even if the route is longer it could be less congested – the shortest route isn’t necessarily the fastest."
"Alternatively drivers are advised to travel before midday on the December 21 or 22, or better still on Monday 23. It is vital that drivers plan ahead and use the tools available, such as, for example, the Inrix Traffic app for journey times and traffic forecasts, or a Garmin portable navigation device, which features Inrix’s real-time traffic."
Congestion is expected to extend beyond the South East on the December 19 and 20. Northbound on the M1 will be particularly busy through the East Midlands, adding two hours to a journey from Leicester through Nottinghamshire. The M6 northbound between junctions 4 (M42) and 17 past Sandbach could see delays of up to an hour. The M56 heading to Manchester Airport could also experience congestion with delays of 30 minutes or longer.
The UK’s twelve most congested roads on December 19 and 20 are listed below.
The Twelve Delays of Christmas (December 19 and 20 at peak times)
- 1 M25 anti-clockwise J21A (M1) to J5 (M26) – up to 2hr delay
- 2 M25 clockwise J7 (Reigate) to J23 (A1M) – up to 2ht delay
- 3 M1 northbound J21 (Leicester) to J32 (M18) – up to 2hr delay
- 4 A4 westbound (White City) to M4 J11 (Reading) – 1hr delay or longer
- 5 M6 northbound J4 (M42) to J17 (Sandbach) – up to 1hr delay
- 6 M1 southbound J35 (Chapeltown) to J32 (M18) – up to 50 minute delay
- 7 M25 both directions J31 (West Thurrock) to J3 (M20) – up to 40 minute delay
- 8 M5 southbound J13 (Stroud) to J18 (M49) – up to 35 minute delay
- 9 M77 southbound (from M8) to J7 (Fenwick) – up to 35 minute delay
- 10 A1 northbound (Washington to Seaton Burn in Newcastle) – up to 35 minute delay
- 11 M56 eastbound J9 (M6) to the M60 – 30 minute delay or longer
- 12 M1 northbound J1 (A406) to J10A (Luton Airport) – up to 30 minute delay