The worst hotspots for Christmas getaway jams have been identified by traffic experts.
Motorists are being warned to expect “significant congestion on major roads” such as the M25, M6 and M40 as an estimated 20 million leisure journeys are made in the UK this week.
Research by the RAC and traffic information firm Inrix suggests getaway traffic will be staggered over the coming days, reaching a peak towards the weekend.
Thursday and Friday are expected to be the worst days for congestion, with 2.5 million and 2.8 million vehicles respectively making leisure trips while battling for road space with regular commuters.
On Thursday, delays of up to three hours are expected on one section of the northbound M6, while on Friday part of the southbound M40 could see drivers queuing for more than 90 minutes.
Drivers are being advised to use alternative routes or wait until 8pm before setting off to avoid the worst queues.
THE WORST ROADS FOR LONG DELAYS IN THE NEXT WEEK
- Wednesday: M25 clockwise from J20 to J28 from 3.30pm. Up to 80-minute delay.
- Thursday: M6 north J15 to J25 from 12.30pm. Up to 181-minute delay.
- Friday: M40 south from M42 (Warwickshire) to J8A (Oxford). Up to 110-minute delay.
- Saturday: M40 north from J8A (Oxford) to M42 (Warwickshire). Up to 61-minute delay.
- Monday (December 24): M1 north J21 (Coventry/Leicester) to J26 (Nottingham/Ripley). Up to 22-minute delay.
RAC patrol of the year Mark Souster urged motorists to carry out basic maintenance checks on their cars – such as oil, coolant and screenwash levels and tyre condition – before setting off.
He said: “It’s vitally important every driver planning a trip gives their car a once-over to make sure it’s up to the job.
“A single breakdown can bring some roads to a grinding halt, slowing down the Christmas getaway for all of us.”
The anticipated jams will be compounded by extensive disruption to the rail network, with planned engineering work and strikes forcing more people on to the roads over the festive period.
Strikes are likely to affect routes run by Northern Rail and South Western Railway, while Network Rail is planning extensive engineering work on lines running into major stations such as London Paddington and London Victoria.