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'Frantic Friday' hits the drive home for Christmas

'Frantic Friday' hits the drive home for Christmas

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 11:30am 20th December 2019. (Updated at 4:43pm 20th December 2019)

Cornwall is driving home for Christmas as the big festive getaway gets underway.

Over 31 million car journeys are expected to be made across the country over the holiday period.

The A30 and A38 are being tipped as being the busiest roads in the Duchy, especially for people heading home for the holidays westbound.

Today is being dubbed as 'Frantic Friday' as commuter traffic meets getaway traffic on the roads.

Elsewhere, the M1, M25, M5, and M6 are all set to be hit with long delays.

On Friday, the roads are expected to be at their busiest between 12pm and 7pm, so anyone wanting to avoid the queues is advised to travel after 8pm.

Across the weekend roads will be busy between 10am and 4pm, and the advice is to travel after 5pm to avoid the traffic.

Monday will be busiest between 10am and 3pm - and Christmas Eve will be busiest between 2pm and 6pm.

"Our figures suggest many more drivers are planning leisure trips by car in the run-up to this Christmas this year, so bumper-to-bumper traffic on some motorways and major A-roads is going to be near-guaranteed.

"While Christmas Day is still a little way off, it looks as though millions of drivers are planning to complete their getaway trips this week. Unfortunately, when you add in the prospect of unsettled weather, with heavy rain and strong winds in some parts, these are likely to be pretty unpleasant drives for many of us.

"Popular days for travel also tend to be common days for breakdowns, and our teams will be working flat-out over the whole festive period, regardless of what the weather has in store, to give drivers complete peace of mind should their vehicles let them down. 

"But drivers should remember that a small amount of preparation before setting out can dramatically cut the chances of breaking down in the first place - checking tyre tread and pressure, as well as ensuring oil and coolant are at the right levels, is a must before any long journey."

RAC patrol of the year, Ben Aldous

Where will be busiest on the country's roads?

Looking forward to the start of next week, an estimated 5.6m getaway trips are planned for 23rd December and Christmas Eve.

Data provided by transportation analytics specialists INRIX indicates the M1 in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, the northern and western sections of the clockwise M25 and M6 in the West Midlands are set to bear the brunt of the festive traffic. 

Two of the longest delays are expected on Sunday, with drivers facing queues of more than an hour and a half northbound between Flitwick and Daventry, and nearly an hour on the M25 clockwise between the junctions for the M23 and M40.

"It does look as though this week is going to see a marked rise in traffic volumes on major roads in the UK, with Thursday expected to see the largest increase in vehicles compared to a normal December day. 

"Drivers desperate to get away for Christmas are going to find themselves competing with commuters and shoppers for road space, so we recommend keeping tuned in to the changing traffic conditions on local radio and via in-car apps."

INRIX transportation analyst, Trevor Reed

christmas getaways trips RAC

Looking ahead to traffic between Christmas Day and New Year's Day:

A separate RAC survey of drivers' intentions suggests as many as 33m separate leisure journeys will be taken by car between Christmas Day and the last day of the year, as people criss-cross the country to meet up with friends and family members, wherever they happen to live. 

Boxing Day and Friday 27th December look to be the busiest, with nearly 6m trips by car expected each day, followed by Saturday with 5.6m and Sunday with 5.3m journeys.

Top tips to keep you moving:

  • Fuel – Don’t risk running out of fuel – top up before you set out
  • Oil – check it’s at the right level to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic
  • Rubber – tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition to give your car a safe, sure grip on the road
  • Coolant – this does a vital job in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem so contact a good garage without delay
  • Electrics – your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems
  • Screenwash – helps keep your windscreen clear 

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