Dover traffic chaos: How to prepare for crossing the channel this summer

Dover traffic chaos

Increased French security checks mean more queueing for ferries

Authorities and ferry companies have reassured travellers that the recent Dover traffic chaos was a one-off. But police are still warning of delays at channel ports. This is because of increased French security following recent terror attacks on the Continent. A Kent police spokesperson said: “A large volume of holiday traffic is anticipated over the next few days with holiday makers making their way to Europe. This together with heightened security checks by the French Authorities could however mean some delays over the next few weeks.”

Here’s our guide to crossing the channel this summer.

Before you leave the house

It’s worthwhile considering how long you need to get to Dover. Both police and ferry companies are warning that check-in could take longer than normal because of more rigorous security. Ferry company DFDS said: “We are working closely with the border authorities to minimise delays to our customers but we recommend you allow 90 minutes from the entrance of the Port of Dover to reach the DFDS check-in points. Please have your passports ready for inspection on arrival at border and check-in controls to speed up the process. DFDS check-in controls open two hours prior to the sailing departure and close no later than 45 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.”

Useful links

Check the following to see the state of travel at Dover. On Twitter:





And is a good way of discovering any delays on the roads you need to use.

Prepare the car for delays

Follow this link to read our expert’s tips on how to prepare your car for a summer holiday. Although the 15-hour jams with 12-mile tailbacks over the weekend of July 23/24 were an exception, if there is heavy traffic forecast on the route, you should be prepared.

Before any anticipated traffic delay, it’s a good rule to stop when you can and fill up with fuel. Crawling along at low speed and sitting with your engine idling waiting for traffic to move uses a lot of fuel. You don’t want to be worrying about running out in addition to being anxious about missing your ferry.

Make sure you have snacks that are easily accessible. Also ensure that you have plenty of water. This is better than sugary fizzy drinks because it doesn’t taste as horrible when it’s luke warm and young kids cooped up in the back won’t get a sugar rush with no means of burning it off.

If you’re taking tablets, books, magazines and newspapers on holiday, pack them so you, or one of your passengers, can reach them easily without dismantling the contents of your carefully packed boot.

Read how to keep your kids occupied on a long journey

In a traffic jam

When traffic is stopped for minutes rather than seconds, it makes sense to turn the engine off to save fuel. But make sure you turn it off fully. If you leave the ignition in the ‘on’ position, any devices plugged into the car will continue to charge and drain the battery. Think about how you use air-conditioning. It might be brilliant for keeping you cool but it runs off the engine so uses fuel and costs money. Opening the windows when you’re stationary is better for the environment and free.

Also give yourself some space. You don’t know what’s going to happen while you’re in the traffic jam. The vehicle in front might break down so leave at least a car’s length between you and it so you can safely drive around it should you have to.

In the recent Dover traffic chaos, some drivers were getting out of their cars on the M20. The Highway Code states that pedestrians shouldn’t be on the motorway. However, in an emergency, you may have to get out of your car. Ensure you keep a close rein on young children as there may be motorbikes or emergency vehicles moving through stationary traffic or along the hard shoulder.


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