Festive forecast: When to avoid driving home this Christmas

The best days to drive home for Christmas

Driving home for Christmas? With an estimated 143 million car journeys being made over the festive period, it pays to plan your travel in advance to avoid frustrating delays.

Thankfully, the AA has used historical data to identify the roads and crunch times to avoid if you want to beat Santa to the fireplace…

Busiest Christmas travel times

With Christmas Day falling mid-week this year, breakdown services are expecting traffic to be more staggered than usual, with Sunday 22nd and Christmas Day predicted to experience the least congestion.

Thursday 19th and Friday 20th are expected to be the worst days for Christmas drivers – when as many as 17 million vehicles will hit the roads, with Christmas drivers joining daily commuters.

According to the AA, traffic will be heaviest from 4pm on Friday 20th, with major delays expected on the M25, the M5 between Bristol and Weston-Super-Mare and the M6 around Birmingham.

Two-fifths of drivers will make their Christmas journeys on Saturday 21st, combining with last-minute shoppers hoping to get their final presents ticked off.

Here’s a full list of the roads predicted to add at least 25 minutes to your journey when travelling on peak days:

Thursday 19th December

M25 Junction 16-7 (anti-clockwise): +45 minutes

M5 Junction 15/16-29: +30 minutes

M4 Junction 4-10: +35 minutes

M6 Junction 20-21A: +25 minutes

A303, A30 Yarcombe – A338 Cholderton: +45 minutes

Friday 20th December

M25 Junction 13-24 (anti-clockwise): +1 hour

M1 Junction 11-22: +45 minutes

M4 Junction 23-18: +40 minutes

M60 Junction 18-12: +40 minutes

M20 Junction 1-6: +35 minutes

Saturday 21st December

M60 Junction 9-10 (Manchester Trafford Centre): +30 minutes

B225/A256 and A2 (Bluewater shopping centre): +45 minutes

A4540 (Birmingham Bullring shopping centre): +40 minutes

A562/A5053 (Liverpool ONE shopping centre): +25 minutes

Monday 23rd December

M40 Junction 9 – A34 Abingdon: +30 minutes

M1 Junction 19-12: +30 minutes

M6 Junction 12-23: +30 minutes

M4 Junction 15-19: +40 minutes

M3 Junction 1-4: +35 minutes

Tuesday 24th December

M27, M3 Junction 14 – M275 Junction 12: +40 minutes

M1 Junction 29-43: +45 minutes

M25 (all): +30 minutes

M5 Junction 14-25: +35 minutes

M4 Junction 2-12: +45 minutes

Thursday 26th December

M6 Junction 1-10a: +30 minutes

M1 Junction 17-25: +35 minutes

M60 Junction 18-24: +25 minutes

The quietest day

Christmas Day itself is known to be one of the quietest days of the year for travel, with only 11 million cars typically on the road.

It’s also the day with the fewest reported breakdowns. Last year the AA enjoyed a quarter of its usual daily call outs.

AA’s patrol man of the year, Ben Sheridan advises drivers to consider the quietest times to travel before setting off.

He said: “Getting stuck in traffic isn’t part of anyone’s Christmas plans and we hope our hotspot list will help drivers avoid a Christmas getaway nightmare.

“If you can’t avoid travelling on busy routes then try to avoid peak journey times and, if all else fails, make sure you are well prepared for the journey.”

Nervous about the Christmas drive? Save the stress with our helpful guide to driving home for Christmas.

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