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20 Million Getaways Before Christmas

Largescale strikes by UK workers last month have led to experts warning of increased traffic on our roads. Drivers are competing for tarmac as traffic in and around cities becomes much higher than normal leading to more jams on all major roads. INRIX, part of the motor trade industry, study traffic analytics and saw travel times increase by 14% compared to the same period last year, with stretches of the M25, M60, M6 and M40 unfortunately seeing some of the longest traffic jams.

Traffic Jam

INRIX transportation analyst, Bob Pishue, said in the run up to Christmas: “With pre-pandemic levels of travellers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays – especially in and around major cities. Our data shows, and our advice is, to avoid travelling during peak commuting hours this week. If schedules allow, leave bright and early or following the end of the afternoon commute.”

Motorists took to their vehicles in December to make an estimated 19.6m journeys to spend quality time with family and friends in the week leading up to Christmas Eve. According to the recent traffic predictions, it has been observed that around 50% of all the motoring trips were squeezed into just two days, the 23rd and 24th.

Caution was advised as traffic volumes started to steadily increase over the course of the week on all major roads and motorways, December’s ‘frantic’ Friday (23rd) and Saturday sprint (24th) was predicted to see 7.9m getaways.

Christmas Day itself was also expected to see a lot of people on the move, with over 3.5 million trips made, with a further 3.3m on Boxing Day and an extra 1.4m trips across both days, but with no commuter traffic on the roads, traffic volumes was slightly lower, meaning serious delays were less likely.

For next year and as always, driver concentration needs to be at optimum levels, with many motorists still thinking about those final festive jobs before the holidays start whilst driving; distractions will no doubt play a part, so in future, ensure your private and motor trade insurance policies and breakdown cover is up to date!

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It only takes a single motor vehicle breakdown for tailbacks and jams to start forming, the RAC advise drivers to check and maintain their vehicles during every season, including winter, plan ahead to try and keep inconvenience to a minimum.

In the run up to the festive period, one spokesperson from the RAC said, “Our research suggests getaway traffic will build steadily all week, culminating in two frantic days of travelling just before Christmas itself. By Friday, we fear it will be a case of ‘jams today and jams tomorrow’ on the roads as millions of people jump behind the wheel to see family and friends – with last-minute Christmas shoppers as well as the impact of another rail strike also leading to an increase in traffic.”

“If possible, drivers should try to make their trips on a quieter day earlier this week if they possibly can. One saving grace for drivers might be that much of the country will see milder weather conditions this week with a much smaller chance of snow and ice like we saw just a week ago. “

“Nonetheless, it’s still vital drivers do everything they can to avoid their cars letting them down. Checking oil and coolant when the engine is cold are two simple things that can cut the chances of a serious breakdown, as is ensuring tyres have plenty of grip and are inflated properly.”

“Topping up with a good quality screen wash that protects to well below zero degrees is also important as gritted roads create a constant need for clearing the windscreen.”

That turned out to be very good advice indeed.

National Highways customer service director also said back in December: “We don’t want roadworks to spoil Christmas, so we’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible; that’s why we’re keeping almost 98% of the road network we manage free from roadworks.”

“We know from experience that peak travel times can vary in the run-up to Christmas, so we’re encouraging drivers to check conditions before heading out to help keep traffic flowing. And we’re also asking motorists to be prepared before setting off. Almost half of breakdowns can be easily avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before their journeys.”

That also turned out to be very good advice. Be sure to take note for next year!