Frantic Friday: table of hotspots lets drivers avoid traffic when travelling over Christmas

Frantic Friday: how drivers can prepare for traffic when travelling over Christmas 2017

You might think you’ve been organised when it comes to giving gifts for family and friends this Christmas, but have you given much thought to planning any journey by car?

Drivers are being warned to plan ahead when travelling in the lead-up to Christmas, after experts predicted that Friday, 22 December would be the busiest day on the roads – leading it to be dubbed “Frantic Friday”.

More than 20m vehicles are expected to take to roads over the Christmas period. And because Christmas Day falls on a Monday this year, a combination of commuters and those setting off for Christmas is predicted to lead to the highest number of traffic jams.

Inrix, a transport analytics firm, warned that last year, there were more than 300 traffic jams at a peak of around 5pm on Friday, 23 December.

Dr Graham Cookson, chief economist at Inrix, said drivers would be “well advised to take alternative routes or avoid driving during peak times altogether”.

However, Highways England says it will do its best to ease the way for drivers – and their passengers – this Christmas. As we reported last week, the agency intends to lift or pause nearly 400 hundred miles of roadworks across Britain’s motorway network, between 22 December and 2 January. It means that where safe to do so, more lanes will be open, or temporary speed restrictions will be lifted.

Traffic hotspots over Christmas

Traffic hotspots over Christmas 2017

During “Frantic Friday” the hotspots for traffic are the M1 northbound, between junctions 11 (Luton) and 22 (Leicester) and the M1Southbound between junctions 19 (Catthorpe) and 12 (Flitwick).

Experts also warn that the A303, at Stonehenge, could prove troublesome. Last year’s peak saw traffic jams of seven miles and delays of more than four hours, in the early evening.

However, the anticipated delays are nothing compared to the hold-up expected on the M6 motorway, on Thursday, 21 December. The 65-mile stretch from Haydock, in Merseyside, to Gailey, in South Staffordshire, would normally take about one hour to complete. But based on traffic flows last Christmas, Inrix forecasts it will take more than five hours.

Date Route Dist.


Predicted Journey Time Freeflow (No Congestion) Total Delay Peak Time
20/12/17 M25, Anti-clockwise 31.29 2 hrs & 28 mins 26 mins 2 hrs & 2 mins 16:15:00
20/12/17 M25_Anti-clockwise 33.9 1 hrs & 22 mins 28 mins 54 mins 08:00:00
20/12/17 M4_Westbound 15.05 46 mins 16 mins 30 mins 16:30:00
21/12/17 M6, Southbound 65.32 5 hrs & 20 mins 59 mins 4 hrs & 21 mins 14:30:00
21/12/17 M3, Westbound 16.86 1 hrs & 38 mins 18 mins 1 hrs & 19 mins 00:45:00
21/12/17 M74, Southbound 14.96 50 mins 16 mins 34 mins 18:00:00
22/12/17 M1, Northbound 58.7 2 hrs & 8 mins 53 mins 1 hrs & 15 mins 11:00:00
22/12/17 M1, Southbound 44.77 2 hrs & 12 mins 41 mins 1 hrs & 30 mins 12:15:00
22/12/17 M1(Northern Ireland), Westbound 40.33 1 hrs & 36 mins 38 mins 58 mins 17:15:00
22/12/17 M1(Northern Ireland), Eastbound 40.24 1 hrs & 12 mins 37 mins 35 mins 16:45:00
22/12/17 A720, Eastbound 12.67 31 mins 12 mins 19 mins 12:45:00

How to stay calm in traffic or when confronted by other drivers

Whether your journey is long or short, traffic jams add to stress levels and can soon take the shine off the start of the Christmas holidays.

A simple way to help avoid stress is to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for your journey. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents suggests checking traffic reports well in advance, and says it’s important drivers ignore rude gestures and avoid eye contact with other motorists.

For more information on staying calm in traffic, read this expert advice.

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