It’s that time of year again – millions of drivers hit the road to celebrate Christmas with family or friends, or simply to get away from it all for a festive holiday.
The busiest travel days are December 23 and Christmas Eve, with the AA estimating that there will be nearly 17 million cars on the road on each of those days.
A survey of more than 12,000 motorists found that 51% plan to take a car trip on December 23 and 50% plan to take one the following day.
Business travel is expected to slow down after Dec. 16 into the New Year, while Dec. 17 is expected to be the busiest day for high streets, shops and malls.
The busiest roads are probably:
• M5 between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare
• M6 around Birmingham
• M1 north from Luton
• M60 and M62 in the North West of England
• M4 which runs between West London and South West Wales
• M27 into Hampshire.
AA president Edmund King said: “Our expert patrols will be working throughout the holiday to help repair troubled cars, while assisting drivers if they are involved in an accident.
“Many breakdowns are preventable, so it’s very important to check your vehicle before you leave.”
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Disruption to train services due to industrial action and engineering work will also increase traffic volume as many people are forced to resort to the car.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper has criticized unions representing rail workers, who will stage two 48-hour strikes this week in the latest installment 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 their plans and have another virtual Christmas.
“This is not because of another public health pandemic, but because of railway strikes, planned by the RMT union to cause havoc over the holiday season.”
He said the “dire” situation was not “inevitable” and called on the RMT union to end strikes.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that 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.
“In the first few weeks of this new government taking office, we have shown that we are willing to be reasonable – to discuss matters face-to-face with union leaders and to try to facilitate a resolution of this dispute through a new and improved wage proposal that will be passed by the employers must be done.”