christmas driving in the united kingdom

Chris Rea may have put a cheerful spin on the annual festive road trip in his classic song ‘Driving Home for Christmas’, but for many motorists the cross-country Christmas drive is anything but merry.

From huge tailbacks to untimely snow flurries and other poor driving conditions, heading home for the holidays is often a stressful experience for drivers, particularly if they’ve got youngsters in tow. But then again, it is Christmas — so how bad can it be?

Here, we take a look at some of the most extraordinary facts and stats related to festive motoring, from the tailbacks that left motorists muttering ‘humbug’ to the rotten weather that left unfortunate festive commuters having to abandon their cars in the snow.

Winter 2010

Hands up if you remember the winter of 2010, when the UK experienced the coldest December since records began. With all regions of the British Isles battered by freak snow storms and freezing temperatures, the annual Christmas commute was brought to a standstill as motorways were closed and A-roads were blanketed in up to 30 inches of the white stuff.

Despite the government’s best efforts to prepare for the incoming bad weather, Britain’s road network was severely disrupted. The M1 was closed, and so too was the Forth Road Bridge. In Nottinghamshire, so much snow fell that over 100 vehicles were left stranded on the A57 overnight, and the same happened in South Yorkshire. On 6 December, over 1,000 vehicles were stuck on the M8 for over 10 hours — just what you need when you’re trying to get your Christmas shopping sorted!

winter driving united kingdom

While the winter of 2010 was certainly tough on drivers, we reckon most people wouldn’t say no to another covering of snow in the run up to the 25th — provided they make it home first.

400 Miles of Roadworks Completed in Time for Christmas

Planning a drive this Christmas? Good news — Highways England has reported that it’s due to complete over 448 miles of roadworks before the big Christmas rush, easing traffic and helping people get from A to B a little faster.

In fact, according to Highways England, 98% of English roads will be free from roadworks this Christmas. And, to help motorists even further, roadworks will be suspended on 41 miles of road from 23 December to 3 January — so hopefully you won’t find yourself gritting your teeth at a temporary traffic light on Christmas Eve when there’s not a workman in sight.

Designated Driver? Get a Free Drink in Your Local Pub

It’s never fun being the designated driver at Christmastime, when you’re left sipping a glass of pop while your friends and family make merry with the sherry. Thankfully, pubs and restaurants have acknowledged these unsung heroes of the festive night out, the ones who give up the good times so they can carry their loved ones home safely, and free drinks are now available at pubs and restaurants across the UK.

This is all thanks to a campaign between Coca-Cola and THINK!, one of the UK’s leading drink driving campaigns. The two organisations have been pairing up to offer free soft drinks to designated drivers for the past nine years now, and this year they’re offering freebies at more pubs and restaurants than ever.

50% of Festive Motorists Drive Further than 50 Miles

It seems Christmas really does bring people together, with a recent survey suggesting that over 50% of motorists will drive over 50 miles to visit family and friends over the festive period — no wonder the roads are always chock-a-block!

christmas driving

23rd December — The Busiest Day for Christmas Driving

For those who work the 9 to 5, the Christmas dates have fallen rather conveniently this year, with Saturday 23rd marking the perfect time to hotfoot it home for the holidays. That said, the 23rd will likely be the busiest day for festive commuters, with thousands of motorists loading up the car and hitting the road in time for the festivities.

If you are planning on driving on the 23rd, brace yourself for heavy traffic, particularly on motorways. If possible, set off as early as possible to get a head start and give yourself lots of time. For more tips on surviving the Christmas commute, check out our guide to festive driving.

No matter how far you plan to drive this Christmas, a shot of Redex fuel additive can help make your festive driving more affordable. Our innovative fuel additives and system cleaners help your car’s engine to burn fuel more efficiently, improving your overall MPG. For more information, visit the Redex website.