It’s that time of year again – millions of drivers will be hitting the road to join family and friends for Christmas, or just to get away for a festive break.
The busiest days for travel will be December 23 and Christmas Eve, with the AA estimating that each of those days will see nearly 17 million cars on the roads.
A survey of more than 12,000 motorists indicates that 51% plan to take a car trip on December 23 and 50% plan to take one the next day.
Business travel is expected to decline after Dec. 16 into the New Year, while Dec. 17 is expected to be the busiest day for shopping streets, outlets and malls.
The busiest roads are probably:
• M5 between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare
• M6 around Birmingham
• M1 from Luton to the north
• M60 and M62 in the North West of England
• M4 which connects West London and South West Wales
• M27 in Hampshire.
AA Chairman Edmund King said: “Our expert patrols will be working throughout the holiday to help repair cars that suffer from problems, while also providing assistance to drivers if they are involved in a accident.
“Many breakdowns are preventable, so it is very important to check your vehicle before you leave.”
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Disruption of rail services due to industrial action and engineering work will also increase traffic volumes as many people are forced to use cars.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper has criticized unions representing railway workers, who will stage two 48-hour strikes this week in the latest episode of their dispute over pay and conditions.
Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Harper said: “This year many families may have no choice but to change their plans and have a virtual Christmas again.
“It is not due to a new public health pandemic, but because of the strikes by railway workers, planned by the RMT union to sow misery during the festive period.”
He said the “catastrophic” situation was not “inevitable”, calling on the RMT union to call off the strikes.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, saying a meeting between them is now the best chance for progress.
But Mr Harper said the government had “played its part” in trying to end the dispute.
He wrote: “I want this dispute to end as soon as possible. We have agreed to continue our efforts to reach an agreement while remaining fair to the taxpayer.
“During the first weeks of this new government taking office, we demonstrated that we were ready to be reasonable – to talk face to face with the union leaders and to try to facilitate a resolution of this conflict by allowing a new and improved salary offer to be made by employers.