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