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Motorways hit hard as drivers face triple-length gridlock during the christmas getaway

LONDON, United Kingdom – 16 December, 2015

Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Monday 21st December set to be the busiest days on UK roads

Journeys on some motorways will take more than three times as long this Christmas period compared to other times of the year, according to data from INRIX, a leading global provider of transportation information, analytics and connected driving services worldwide.

The busiest days on UK roads will be Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Monday 21st December, with a high number of Britain’s 35.6 million[1] registered vehicles expected to take to the roads ahead of the festive season.

Friday’s Festive Frenzy

Friday 18th December will see the worst of the delays, which will peak at around 4 pm, as Christmas traffic combines with the usual Friday evening peak period. With drivers leaving work early or traveling to spend the festive period with relatives, journey-times could as much as triple in length on Friday afternoon.

The worst affected roads this Friday will be major motorways, including the M25, M5, and M4. A 32-mile section of the M25 (both ways) will have drivers bracing themselves for delays of up to 2 hours and 20 minutes, extending a normally 35-minute journey to nearly three hours, as the average speed will fall to just 11 miles per hour. Drivers heading westbound on the A4 and southbound on the M5 should also be prepared for gridlock and delays of up to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The table below shows the UK’s worst routes, average journey times and the suggested alternative routes for drivers this Friday.

Route Distance (miles) Av. Speed Travel Time Delay Worst Time Alternative Route
M25 both ways J7 (Reigate) to J16 (M40) 32 11 2h 55 min 2h 20 min 4:30-5:30PM A217/A240/A308 between Reigate/Staines or A205/A406 N/S Circ Rds
A4 Westbound (Earl’s Court) to M4 J11 (Reading) 37 17 2h 5 min 1h 20 min 4:30-5:30PM A316/M3/A322/A329M between Richmond and Reading
M5 Southbound J13 (Stroud) to J19 (Gordano) 26 14 1h 50 min 1h 20 min 3:30-4:30PM A38 Whitminster to Almondsbury/M4/M49
M60 both ways J8 (Carrington) to M62 J20 (Rochdale) 17 15 1h 10 min 45 min 3:30-4:30PM M60 J8 to J21 via Stockport/Ashton-u-Lyne/A627M to Rochdale
M4 b/ways J24 (Coldra) to J32 (Coryton) 20 18 1h 5 min 45 min 3:30-4:30PM A4232 S of Cardiff/A48 via Newport
M6 northbound J11a (M6 Toll) to J19 (Knutsford) 52 31 1h 40 min 40 min 3:30-5:30PM A49 Hereford to Warrington or A50/A500/A34 Leicester to Manchester
M25 Anti-clockwise J4 (Orpington) to Dartford Crossing 10 12 50 min 35 min 4:30-5:30PM A2/A102/A12 via Blackwall Tunnel
M3 Southbound J2 (M25) to J8 (A303) 36 33 1h 5 min 30 min 4:30-5:30PM A3/A31 Kingston-u-Thames to Winchester
M1 Northbound J10A (Luton Airport) to J14 (Milton Keynes) 22 24 55 min 30 min 4:30-5:30PM A5 Luton-M.Keynes/A6 Luton-Bedford/A1 S.Mimms-St Neots
M5 b/ways J3 (A456) to M6 J10a (M54) 15 18 50 min 30 min 3:00-4:30PM A4123/A41/A454/Black Country Route
M25 Clockwise J27 (M11) to Dartford Crossing 18 27 40 min 20 min 4:30-5:30PM A12/A102/A2 via Blackwall Tunnel
M56 Eastbound J9 (M6) to the M60 12.5 21 35 min 20 min 3:30-4:30PM M62 or A580 between M6/M60
M1 Northbound J32 (M18) to J42 (M62) 30 36 50 min 15 min 3:30-4:30PM M18/A1M/A1/M62 Sheffield to Pontefract/Castleford
M74 Southbound J1/M8 and J7 (Larkhall) 22 33 40 min 15 min 1:00-2:00PM M8/A8/A73/A71 via Newhouse/Newmains
M1 Northbound J17 (Watford Gap) to J23a (E Mids Airport) 38 46 50 min 10 min 3:30-4:30PM A6 Kettering to Loughborough or use M40/M42/A42 from London


Greg Hallsworth, lead scientist and traffic analyst, INRIX, said: “We would recommend that drivers avoid major routes on the afternoon of Friday 18th December, as this will be the busiest period this Christmas. A combination of the usual Friday evening post-work peak, people driving home for Christmas and the start of the school holidays will cause significant disruption on the roads.

“Drivers would be well advised to follow our advised alternative routes or avoid driving during peak times altogether. Major roads, such as the M25, are always worst affected and drivers should be aware that the shortest routes won’t always be the fastest.”

Avoiding the Christmas Congestion

In addition to Friday’s gridlock, traffic on Saturday 19th December is set to peak between 11 am and 5 pm and again on Sunday 20th at 1 pm, with drivers seeking to avoid more typical peaks in congestion by traveling over the weekend.

Sunday 27th December has also been earmarked as a day to avoid the roads, with the volume of cars set to rise again due to high street sales, plus a larger proportion of people out visiting or returning home from the Christmas break.

“By checking live traffic data, and keeping an eye on weather conditions, drivers can ensure they get home safely and in good time,” advises Hallsworth.




UK/Europe: Hotwire PR (on behalf of INRIX)

Laura Brooks

+44 (0) 20 7608 8363


Matt Simmons

Marketing & PR Director, EMEA


+44 (0)20 7012 3509


[1]Source: Department for Transport: Vehicle Licensing Statistics: Quarter 1 (Jan – Mar) 2015

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