Drivers are being warned to prepare for long queues as millions of people travel to spend Christmas with friends and family.
A serious traffic alert has been issued. The RAC, which expects a combined 7.9 million leisure trips across the UK on Friday and Christmas Eve, published the warning for a stretch of the M25.
Traffic jam on the clockwise section between Junction 7 for the M23 and Junction 16 for the M40 is expected to peak at 12.30pm Friday, when delays of around 50 minutes are likely.
Other roads where long traffic jams are expected on Friday include the M60 near Manchester, the M6 in North West England and the M40 in Oxfordshire.
Junction 4 of the M20 westbound in Kent remains closed Friday morning following a serious accident on Thursday. National Highways said vehicles were diverted onto the on and off ramps, causing three miles of congestion and delays of at least 45 minutes.
Drivers in Wales and southern England are also facing heavy rain, which the Met Office says will spread north to reach southern Scotland and Northern Ireland during the Friday afternoon.
Road congestion in the run-up to Christmas Day has been exacerbated by strike action.
The AA said Friday would be the busiest day on the roads this week, with an estimated 16.9 million journeys across the UK. Another 16.6 million rides are expected on Christmas Eve.
Congestion could increase due to a strike by thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ Union (RMT) at Network Rail, ending train services at around 3pm on Saturday. An overtime ban is also causing major disruption to services from a number of operators on Friday, including Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Railway and South Western Railway.
The RAC said roads would be busiest on Friday – the last working day before Christmas – between 10am and 7pm. The transport analysis company Inrix expects travel times to be about 14% longer compared to the same period last year.
The RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “We expect extended delays on parts of the M25 today as Christmas holidays and commuting come together at the end of the week.
“We advise motorists to avoid these roads around this time if possible or delay their journey until after 7pm this evening when traffic is expected to be less.
“A single vehicle breakdown can also cause queues, so we encourage motorists to do a few pre-drive checks before they set off – in particular to make sure the oil and coolant levels are correct, and that the tires have sufficient tread and are in good condition. blown up.”
The AA’s head of road policy, Jack Cousens, said: “We advise those traveling by car to be prepared for some traffic congestion, especially on popular routes from London.
“The rail strikes this year have convinced more people to travel by car, and while hundreds of miles of road works have been removed to ease the pain, it may not be enough to keep the queues away.”
Inrix’s transportation analyst, Bob Pishue, said, “With pre-pandemic levels of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers should be prepared for delays – especially in and around major cities.”