Christmas travel advice 2014

A third of drivers to hit the road today

Friday 19 December is set to be the busiest day of the Christmas period with around 10 million cars taking to the road

Friday 19 December is set to be the busiest day of the Christmas period with around 10 million cars taking to the road

Friday 19 December is set to be the busiest day of the Christmas period with around 10 million cars taking to the road, either at the start of a week-long Christmas holiday or to get festive preparations into full swing.

An AA-Populus survey of 16,165 AA members last week found that 36% will drive their car more than 20 miles today as schools break up, Christmas shopping begins to peak and many head off on holidays for the whole festive week.

National and regional

Wales is set to have the busiest roads with 42% of AA members there saying they will do significant festive mileage today. The North East follows closely behind with 41%. London is likely to suffer least from an early Christmas traffic surge as only 24% will do 20 miles or more today.

Traffic hotspots

Most likely traffic hotspots today and this weekend are where there are shopping centres close to motorway interchanges, such as Cribbs Causeway off the M5 at Bristol, Lakeside and Bluewater centres off the M25, Sheffield’s Meadowhall off the M1 and the Metrocentre off the A1 at Gateshead.

consumers have more money in their pocket because of low pump prices

Edmund King, AA president

More money in their pocket

“The Christmas getaway could be a long drawn-out ordeal this year with a particularly busy start today. This is because most schools break up today, Christmas shopping gets going in earnest and consumers have more money in their pocket because of low pump prices,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“The AA-Populus poll shows that more drivers will be making a trip of more than 20 miles today compared to any other day over the Christmas period. Even so, a third say they will be doing more big mileages through the first half of next week before settling down to their Christmas celebrations.” 

stay tuned to the weather and traffic reports and, if it’s bad, allow more time for your journey

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year

Be prepared and be informed

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, says: “With Christmas and New Year falling on a Thursday, it’s expected that many people will start a break today (Friday 19 December).

“The weather forecast is mixed with heavy rain forecast in parts of Wales with some risk of flooding over the weekend while and some snow is expected in Scotland and unsettled across the rest of the UK.  Few can expect a white Christmas this year.  Nevertheless, local rain or sleet can create poor driving conditions so it’s important to stay tuned to the weather and traffic reports and, if it’s bad, allow more time for your journey.

“If you’re travelling with children, take plenty of things to keep them entertained and try to break up any journey more than three hours long.

“Before heading off, take a few minutes to do the basic checks on your car, not forgetting to top up the windscreen wash, check and clean your lights, and adjust tyre pressures for a full load, if required.

“Also with an unsettled forecast, pack a few extra warm and waterproof layers, food, water, torch, fully-charged mobile and an atlas or sat-nav in case of any unexpected diversions.”


(19 December 2014)