The worst days and routes to travel over Christmas and how to avoid them

 
Rebecca Smith
Brace yourselves for an onslaught of festive traffic
Brace yourselves for an onslaught of festive traffic (Source: Getty)

Everyone knows journeys can take a bit longer over the festive period, but there are some times you really don't want to hit the road.

Transportation analytics firm INRIX has found that some trips on major routes will take around four times as long over Christmas compared to other times of the year and the busiest days on UK roads are expected to be Friday 16 December and Tuesday 20 December.

The Friday is expected to have the worst delays - peaking around 4pm, as travellers get a double whammy of Christmas traffic as well as the usual Friday peak evening wave of traffic. Throw into the mix a planned strike on Southern rail (talks are happening today in a bid to avoid this), and INRIX has forecast a higher number of vehicles taking to the roads in the south of England.

Read more: Plan to stop traffic moving through Bank junction set for Spring 2017

The worst affected roads are, as you'd expect, major motorways. Drivers on a 32-mile stretch of the M25 can expect delays of up to two hours 20 minutes both ways and an average speed of 11 miles per hour.

As for the 20 December, that's expected to be the second worst day for delays as it'll be the favoured day for people working into the final week before Christmas to take to the roads. There's also another Southern rail strike planned for the day, just to add in another headache.

Delays are predicted to peak from 12.30pm to 1pm and then again at 4pm. The same 32-mile stretch of the M25 will see delays of up to 1 hour 10 minutes. Elsewhere, delays of approximately 55 minutes are expected on the A4, and 45 minutes on the M5 and M6. Congestion on the M60 will delay drivers by around 30 minutes.

Read more: More Britons will travel for Christmas and New Year than ever before

Highways England is trying to bring a bit of cheer to the proceedings: it's intending to complete or lift 448 miles of roadworks between 6am on Friday 23 December and Tuesday 3 January, so 98 per cent of its 9,534 mile network will be free of roadworks over the festive period. Hooray!

The expected worst delays on 16 December (and how to avoid them)

Route

Distance (miles)

Average Speed (mph)

Travel time

Normal

Delay

Worst time to travel

Alternative Route

M25 J7 (Reigate) to J16 (M40)

32

11

2h 55m

35 min

2h 20m

4-5.30pm

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 10m

45 min

1h 25m

4-5.30pm

A316/M3/A322/A329M between Richmond and Reading

M5 Southbound J14 (Thornbury) to J21 (Weston-s-Mare)

29

15

1h 55m

30 min

1h 25m

3.30-5pm

A38 Whitminster to Almondsbury/M4/M4; A4/A370 South of Bristol

M6 J16 (Stoke N) to J22 (Warrington)

30

16

1h 50m

30 min

1h 20m

3.30-5.30pm

A49 Hereford to Warrington or A50/A500/A34 Leicester to Manchester

M60 J8 (Carrington) to M62 J20 (Rochdale)

17

15

1h 10m

20 min

0h 50m

3.30-5.00pm

M60 J8 to J21 via Stockport/Ashton-u-Lyne/A627M to Rochdale

M4 J24 (Coldra) to J32 (Coryton)

20

18

1h 05m

20 min

0h 45m

3.30-5pm

A4232 S of Cardiff/A48 via Newport

M25 Anti-clockwise J4 (Orpington) to Dartford Crossing

10

12

0h 50m

15 min

0h 35m

4:00-5.30pm

A2/A102/A12 via Blackwall Tunnel

M3 Southbound J2 (M25) to J8 (A303)

36

33

1h 05m

35 min

0h 30m

4.30-6pm

A3/A31 Kingston-upon-Thames to Winchester

M5 J4 (Bromsgrove) to J7 (Worcester)

16

18

0h 50m

20 min

0h 30m

3-5pm

A38 between Bromsgrove and Worcester

M25 Clockwise J27 (M11) to Dartford Crossing

18

27

0h 40m

20 min

0h 20m

4-5.30pm

A12/A102/A2 via Blackwall Tunnel

M74 Southbound J1/M8 and J5 (Raith)

22

33

0h 40m

25 min

0h 15m

1-3pm

M8/A8/A73/A71 via Newhouse/Newmains

M1 Northbound J17 (Watford Gap) to J23a (E Mids Airport)

38

42

0h 55m

40 min

0h 15m

3-5pm

A6 Kettering to Loughborough or use M40/M42/A42 from London

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