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Over 20 Million Vehicles to Hit UK Roads This Christmas Creating Four Hour Delays: INRIX Research

London – December 13, 2017 – More than 20 million vehicles will hit the road this festive period resulting in significant delays, according to data from INRIX, the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics.

With Christmas Day falling on a Monday this year, the busiest days for traffic are predicted to occur from Wednesday, 20th to Friday, 22nd December. As a surge of drivers try to beat the Christmas getaway traffic, many will find themselves experiencing delays, the worst of which could exceed four hours.

In addition to people visiting their family and friends, e-commerce will be a key factor in the increase in cars on the roads, as brands look to squeeze in the last deliveries ahead of the weekend. Last year, the week ahead of Christmas saw a record number of delivery vehicles hit the roads[1], and drivers should be prepared for a similar situation this year.

Table 1: Wednesday 20th December – Friday 22nd December – UK’s most delayed routes, average journey times

Date Route Dist.


Predicted Journey Time Freeflow (No Congestion) Total Delay Peak Time
20/12/17 M25, Anti-clockwise 31.29 2 hrs & 28 mins 26 mins 2 hrs & 2 mins 16:15:00
20/12/17 M25_Anti-clockwise 33.9 1 hrs & 22 mins 28 mins 54 mins 08:00:00
20/12/17 M4_Westbound 15.05 46 mins 16 mins 30 mins 16:30:00
21/12/17 M6, Southbound 65.32 5 hrs & 20 mins 59 mins 4 hrs & 21 mins 14:30:00
21/12/17 M3, Westbound 16.86 1 hrs & 38 mins 18 mins 1 hrs & 19 mins 00:45:00
21/12/17 M74, Southbound 14.96 50 mins 16 mins 34 mins 18:00:00
22/12/17 M1, Northbound 58.7 2 hrs & 8 mins 53 mins 1 hrs & 15 mins 11:00:00
22/12/17 M1, Southbound 44.77 2 hrs & 12 mins 41 mins 1 hrs & 30 mins 12:15:00
22/12/17 M1(Northern Ireland), Westbound 40.33 1 hrs & 36 mins 38 mins 58 mins 17:15:00
22/12/17 M1(Northern Ireland), Eastbound 40.24 1 hrs & 12 mins 37 mins 35 mins 16:45:00
22/12/17 A720, Eastbound 12.67 31 mins 12 mins 19 mins 12:45:00


The Christmas getaway peak isn’t the only time drivers need to be aware of this year. Delays are also expected between Christmas and New Year, with Tuesday 27th December predicted to see significant delays. The volume of cars is expected to rise due to high street sales, and high numbers of people are anticipated to be out visiting family and friends, or returning home from the Christmas break. The worst hit stretches of motorway will see three hour delays on Wednesday 27th December, with high traffic volumes expected around the M25.

Dr. Graham Cookson, Chief Economist INRIX, said:

“As we head into the Christmas period, when many use the roads to visit family and friends, we advise motorists to use the latest real-time traffic technology to keep up to date with the situation on the roads. Drivers would be well advised to take alternative routes or avoid driving during peak times altogether.

“The INRIX Traffic App can be used to check live traffic updates in order to find the best routes. Leaving the house with plenty of time to spare will mean drivers ensure they reach their destinations safely.” advises Cookson.

Table 2: Wednesday 27th December – Thursday 28th December – UK’s most delayed routes, average journey time

Date Route Dist.


Predicted Journey Time Freeflow (No Congestion) Total Delay Peak Time
27/12/17 M25, Clockwise 34.73 3 hrs & 41 28 mins 3 hrs & 13 12:30:00
27/12/17 M25, Anti-clockwise 15.54 2 hrs & 9 14 mins 1 hrs & 55 13:00:00
27/12/17 A303, Eastbound 77.27 2 hrs & 50 1 hrs & 17 1 hrs & 33 16:00:00
27/12/17 M4, Eastbound 19.18 1 hrs & 11 16 mins 55 mins 17:00:00
27/12/17 M25, Anti-clockwise 15.14 1 hrs & 1 13 mins 48 mins 14:15:00
27/12/17 M60, Anti-clockwise 8.94 1 hrs & 4 11 mins 53 mins 13:30:00
27/12/17 A34_M40_ 22.54 1 hrs & 5 20 mins 45 mins 12:30:00
27/12/17 M4, Eastbound 13.45 53 mins 11 mins 41 mins 12:30:00
27/12/17 M8, Eastbound 11.06 59 mins 11 mins 48 mins 17:15:00
28/12/17 M5, Southbound 42.52 2 hrs & 22 35 mins 1 hrs & 47 1 hrs & 44
28/12/17 M20, Westbound 49.22 1 hrs & 17 42 mins 35 mins 6 mins
28/12/17 M6, Northbound 55.79 2 hrs & 58 50 mins 2 hrs & 8 1 hrs & 23
28/12/17 A303, Westbound 69.74 2 hrs & 48 1 hrs & 14 1 hrs & 34 48 mins


To ease the burden on motorists hitting the roads this Christmas, Highways England will be lifting almost 400 hundred miles of roadworks across the country to help ensure people travel with as little disruption as possible. That will leave 99% of the motorway and main A road network free of roadworks from 6 am on 22 December until 12.01 am on 2 January. By suspending or completing roadworks, more lanes will be open and many speed restrictions lifted.

Highways England’s customer service director Melanie Clarke said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this festive period and that’s why we’re keeping 99 percent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks.

“Over the past two years we’ve already added 190 lane miles of much-needed capacity and that will make life easier for those traveling this Christmas and New Year.

INRIX analysis of last Christmas showed that, at the peak at around 5 pm on Friday before Christmas (23rd December), there were more than 300 traffic jams recorded by the INRIX Incident Platform. Detailed analysis using INRIX Roadway Analytics showed that the worst traffic jam was a 10-mile stretch of the A5 southbound from the junction (18) with the M1 that lasted for over 5 hours. According to the analysis of the INRIX Incident Platform, this was due to a diversion that was in operation after a multi-vehicle crash around Watford Gap services closed the M1 southbound from Junction 18 (Rugby) to 16 (Daventry). The crash occurred at 10:00 on the main carriageway adjacent to Watford Gap Services, in which the air ambulance attended. The M45 east was also closed towards the M1 for much of the day.

The second worst traffic hotspot was on the A303 at Stonehenge. At its worst, traffic tailed back for 7-miles for 4.5 hours starting at 18:05. This notorious bottleneck was congested for a total of 13 hours on 23rd December fluxing in and out of congestion throughout the day.

Interestingly, the Northbound carriageway of the M1 at Junction 17 was the UK’s third most congested hotspot possibly due to people observing (rubbernecking) at the serious incident on the Southbound carriageway with average speeds falling below 10 miles per hour. Other sections of the Northbound M1 were also heavily congested especially Junctions 13 through 17.

Other notable traffic jams were on the westbound M4 just outside London, the M1 in both directions in Belfast, the M74 and M8 near Glasgow, and numerous stretches of the M25 in both directions. The problems in Scotland were caused by incredibly heavy rain.

INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and intelligent mobility solutions to help move people, cities, and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.


[1]  eMarketer: “One-Fifth of UK Christmas Season Retail Sales Will Be Digital this Year”

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