It’s that time of year again – millions of drivers take to the streets at Christmas to meet family or friends or just to get away for a festive break.
The busiest days for travel are December 23 and Christmas Eve, with the AA estimating that nearly 17 million cars will be on the roads on each of those days.
A survey of more than 12,000 drivers found that 51% plan to drive on December 23 and 50% the next day.
Business travel is expected to decline after December 16 into the New Year, while December 17 is expected to be the busiest day for high streets, retail outlets and malls.
The busiest streets are probably:
• M5 between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare
• M6 around Birmingham
• M1 from Luton northbound
• M60 and M62 in North West England
• M4, which runs between West London and South West Wales
• M27 in Hampshire.
AA President Edmund King said: “Our expert patrols will be working throughout the holiday season to fix cars that are having problems, while also helping drivers should they be involved in an accident.
“Many breakdowns are preventable, so it is very important to check your vehicle before driving.”
Christmas rail strikes continue as union rejects operators’ offer
Strikes every day before Christmas – which sectors are affected and why
The disruption of rail traffic due to labor disputes and construction work will also increase traffic as many people will have to resort to cars.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper has criticized the unions representing railway workers who are set to stage two 48-hour strikes this week in the latest episode of their dispute over wages and working conditions.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Mr Harper said: “This year many families may have no choice but to change plans and celebrate a virtual Christmas again.
“This is not due to a new public health pandemic, but to rail strikes planned by the RMT union to cause misery over the festive period.”
He said the “grim” situation was not “inevitable” and called on the RMT union to end the strikes.
RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying that a meeting between them now is the best chance for progress.
But Mr Harper said the government had “played its part” in trying to settle the dispute.
He wrote: “I want this argument to end as soon as possible. We have agreed to continue our efforts to reach an agreement while remaining fair to the taxpayer.
“In the first few weeks of this new government’s tenure, we have shown that we are willing to be sensible – to discuss matters face-to-face with union leaders and try to facilitate a resolution of this dispute by offering a new and improved solution enable the employer’s salary offer.”