RAC Christmas Driving Tips

The RAC anticipates the roads that will be busiest on Christmas Eve. 

Alan Wilcock, RAC Patrol Ambassador of the Year, offers the following advice: “After all the recent bad weather and with Christmas being the busiest time of the year on the roads, we recommend that people double check their route before setting off to check for any problems and listen to traffic updates.”

“Motorists need to allow plenty of time to reach their destination as the condition of the roads could still be hazardous.  A few basic checks to the car before setting off could be the difference to arriving on time or risking a breakdown.  They also need to have the essential ‘winter kit’ with them including additional warm clothing, warm drinks, fully charged mobile in case of breakdown and a road map.”

During the cold weather an average of over 40,000 drivers per day have been making the most of the RAC Traffic Plus app to get the most up-to-date traffic information available.  The app is available for iPhone and Google Android phones and can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and Android Market and costs 59p (less than a song) - potentially the cheapest expense for parents this Christmas.

The new app combines RAC’s popular ‘Route Planner’ with its ‘Traffic’ information service, so motorists can plan their route on their phone and access ‘real-time’ information on any hold-ups along the way.*

RAC’s Route Planner and Traffic and Travel News is also available at www.rac.co.uk

Checks to make before setting off include:

Top up screenwash and ensure there is still sufficient antifreeze in the coolant

Check tyre condition to ensure there is adequate tread, look for damage such as splits or bulges and check pressure.  If you live in an area particularly at risk of further snow consider purchasing winter tyres or snow socks.

Check the wiper blades for damage and replace if necessary.  When wiper blades become frozen to glass it is very easy to damage them when freeing them up

Charge/top up batteries if possible – particularly if the vehicle is primarily used for short journeys

Ensure everything is switched off when you end your journey including lights, heater, fan, heated rear windscreen, radio etc – every volt is precious first thing in the morning.

Routes likely to be busy over the holiday period include:

From the South East

To the North: M1, A1, A1(M)

To the North West: M1, M6, M6 Toll

To Wales and the West Country: M4 (also for Heathrow), M5

To the South West: M3, A303, M5

To Gatwick: M23

To Stansted: M11

From London

All major routes from Central London to the motorways will be busy for the big get away, including:

A3 through Kingston heading out to the M25

A40 heading out to the M40, particularly the Marylebone flyover from Paddington

A316 through Twickenham and Kew heading out to the M3

Shepherd’s Busy – Hammersmith and Chiswick heading out to the M4

Hangar Lane to Gunnersbury heading to the M4

Finchley Road and Hendon Way (A41) heading out to the M1

A406 North Circular both ways heading for the M11

A2 heading out to the M2

A20 heading for the M20

From Birmingham

To London and the South East: M1 or M42/M40

To the South Coast: M40/A34

To the South West: M42/M5

To the North: M42/M1 (also E.Mids Airport)

To Scotland & North-West: M6, A74M, M74

North East 

Metro Centre - extra traffic on the A1, A19 through the Tyne Tunnel 

A19 from Middlesbrough towards York

Middlesbrough - Teeside Park - extra traffic on the A66

A167M Central motorway Newcastle

A1 which becomes the A1M from Northumberland to the M1

Yorkshire & Humberside

The A1237 York outer ring road, A64 to and from York, A171, A170 and A165 can often get busy because of Christmas shopping and the Christmas markets

Delays on the M1 at J34 for Meadowhall 

A1079 between Hull and York - often affected by snow, especially around Market Weighton

A180 from Grimsby to the motorway

M621 towards Leeds

M62 over the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester – particularly in poor weather

M606 from Bradford to the M62

M62 around J27 Gildersome - often congested due to the Retail Park and Ikea

M18 towards the M180

A61 between Harrogate and Leeds 

North West 

M6 both directions around J32 

M6 around between J16 - J19 

M56 towards North Wales and Cheshire Oaks shopping outlet

Routes in and out of Chester

M60 around J9 and J10 for the Trafford Centre

A66 cross Pennine route between Penrith and Appleby particularly in poor weather as the route often gets a lot of snow

South West

A303 Westbound from Bulford to Stonehenge

A30 from Devon to Cornwall

A38 across Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

M4 Westbound from J19 (Bristol) to J20 (Almondsbury Interchange)

M5 Southbound from J15 (Almondsbury Interchange) to J30 (Exeter) - whole 

stretch between Bristol and Devon with denser traffic flows over the split level section

South Wales

M4 J29 St Mellons – congestion in both directions

A48(M) leaving Cardiff heading eastbound towards M4 J29

M4 – both directions around the Brynglas Tunnels J26 (Malpas)

M4 westbound into Wales approaching the toll booths

North Wales

A55 Britannia Bridge in both directions, speed restrictions may be in place during adverse weather conditions


M8 eastbound from J23 Dumbreck Road, over the Kingston Bridge to J16 Townhead

M8 westbound from J11 Stepps to J19 Charing Cross



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