Driving home for Christmas? These are the roads to avoid

A traffic jam on the motorway in the UK

Be prepared for traffic jams around the Christmas period

The few days before Christmas are some of the busiest in the year and you might end up in standstill traffic depending on which road you take.  

‘Amber traffic warnings’ issued 

The AA have issued ‘amber traffic warnings’ ahead of the weekend before Christmas. With 16.1 million car journeys expected on Friday 22 December and 16.4 million on Saturday 23 December, it’s set to be the busiest travel weekend of the year. 

Christmas Day falls on a Monday this year, so the AA believes people will take advantage of the weekend to see family rather than waiting until Christmas Eve to travel, as is the norm.  

Which roads will be busiest? 

The AA predict at least seven motorways will be busy enough to cause disruption. 

M25: around London 

M6: around Birmingham 

M1: north of Luton 

M60: around Manchester 

M62: in the North West 

M5: between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare 

M4: between London and South Wales 

The M5 between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare and the M6 around Birmingham are likely to experience standstill traffic over the course of the two days, and there will also congestion on the M4 between London and South Wales.  

AA president Edmund King has urged drivers to properly prepare in the event they end up stuck in traffic while travelling over the Christmas period. King’s essentials list includes water, warm clothing, high protein foods and a hi-vis jacket in case of a breakdown.  

To avoid breakdowns, drivers should check their cars before setting off on their journeys. Checking your oil, fuel, screen wash and coolant levels and making sure your tyres are in good condition can help you make it safely to your destination. 

Engineering work could make roads busier 

Rail services are due to be heavily disrupted over the festive period due to planned engineering work, which could add to the traffic on the roads. 

London Paddington is closed between 24 and 27 December, and there will be no mainline trains to Heathrow Airport over that time period. Southeastern services are being diverted, and London King’s Cross will be closed on Christmas Eve. 

There will also be disruption elsewhere in the country, particularly around Southampton as work begins to build the new Cambridge South station.  

Network strategy director for Network Rail, Lawrence Bowman says: “With more than 96 per cent of the network open for business as usual, we have tried as far as possible to design our investment projects around our passengers and keep disruption to a minimum”.  

If you’re planning to travel at any time around the Christmas period, check both the roads and the rail lines in case you have to factor in potential extra traffic due to train disruptions.  

If you want to know more about travelling at Christmas, check out our blog on Frantic Friday