Travel chaos as drivers face ‘severe delays’ with 33.5m on roads ahead of Christmas Day

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Motorists should prepare for long Eve queues on UK roads as the country anticipates widespread travel chaos. Multiple road safety specialists have warned that millions will join a last-minute exodus from Friday to Saturday, causing significant congestion. The AA expects more than 30 million people to hit the roads ahead of Christmas Day this year.

The motoring association said up to 16.9 million people would complete pre-Christmas journeys today.

The number would make December 23 the busiest day on the roads, but December 24 will likely come close.

The association expects another 16.6 million people to clog up motorways on Christmas Eve, taking the total to 33.5 million last-minute travellers altogether.

The RAC made a similar prediction, warning that December 23 – the last working day of the year – would see the most motorists on the road.

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A warning states that “severe delays” have seen people waiting up to 30 minutes on the M20 Westbound.

Congestion has extended drive times between J6 A229 and the M26, with average driving speeds of around five miles per hour.

The M4 has seen similar delays this morning, but not quite as long as those on the M20.

Drivers have reported eight-minute delays are “increasing” on the M4 Eastbound.


The route planner states that delays commenced early on, around 6.42am, between the J2 A4 Great West Road and J1 A205.

Again, the average driving speed is around five mph.

AA representatives have said issues on other travel routes will compound those on the roads.

Jack Cousens, the association’s head of policy, added that roadworks would also exacerbate the congestion.

He told Sky News: “We are advising those heading out in their cars to be prepared for some congestion, especially on popular routes heading out of London.

“The rail strikes have convinced more people to travel by car this year, and while hundreds of miles of roadworks have been removed to ease the pain, it might not be enough to keep the queues away.”

Thousands of rail workers with the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are on strike today and Christmas Eve.

While unlikely to affect UK roads, Border Force staff are also on strike, impacting flights.