Drivers planning 13m Christmas journeys despite Covid-19

Millions of UK drivers will still visit friends and family during the Christmas travel window, although a fifth won’t due to Covid-19

Drivers in Great Britain are planning around 13 million road trips to visit friends and family during the Christmas travel window between 23 and 27 December, new research suggests.

Some 3.1 million car journeys are expected to take place on 23 December - the first of five days in which Covid-19 restrictions will be eased across England, Wales and Scotland - according to an RAC Breakdown survey of 1,500 motorists. This is an increase from the estimated 2.4 million trips on the same day last year.

There are then predicted to be 2.8 million and 2.5 million journeys on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day respectively - roughly the same as in 2019. Boxing Day and 27 December 2020 will see just 1.6 million and 933,000 trips respectively, though, compared with 4.5 million and 2.9 million on the same days last year.

Date

Predicted trips by car - 2020Estimated trips by car - 2019
23rd December3.1 million2.4 million
Christmas Eve2.8 million2.8 million
Christmas Day2.5 million2.6 million
Boxing Day1.6 million4.5 million
27th December933,0002.9 million

Despite the Christmas rules allowing up to three households to form a bubble over the five-day period, 22 per cent of drivers surveyed said they had no plans to make any road trips to see friends or family because of Covid-19, while a further 35 per cent aren’t doing so for other reasons.

In addition, a separate RAC survey of another 1,500 motorists suggests 28 per cent fewer drivers than last year are planning to use major roads to visit family and friends over the Christmas period, compared with 2019. Instead, 57 per cent of motorists expect their longest trip over the period to be no more than 50 miles, while 25 per cent say it will be no more than 10 miles.

As a result, drivers taking to the road over Christmas can expect the worst congestion to be found in towns, cities and on local roads, whereas motorways and major A roads should be quieter than they normally would be at this time of year.

Of the drivers who will be using their cars over Christmas for purposes other than visiting friends and family, 82 per cent will be doing so for grocery shopping, 41 per cent to go for a walk or another form of exercise, 18 per cent to visit a town or city for some last-minute Christmas shopping and 15 per cent doing the same at an out-of-town retail park.

Offering advice for any drivers taking to the road over Christmas, RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Everyone can do their bit to reduce the chances of breaking down by checking over their car before they set out.

“Checking the tread, condition and pressure of tyres, together with oil, coolant and screenwash levels, make the chances of an unwelcome breakdown much less likely. This is even more important in a year when vehicles have been used less regularly. Drivers should also ensure they plan their journeys before they set out.”

Are you planning a road trip over Christmas? Let us know in the comments section...

Recommended

2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
Geneva
Geneva Motor Show

2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Geneva show cancelled for three years running but hope for 2023 return remains
7 Oct 2021
UK new car sales stagnate in September but 33,000 electric cars are sold
Tesla Model 3 - front
News

UK new car sales stagnate in September but 33,000 electric cars are sold

Electric cars increase their market share but semiconductor shortage means another gloomy month for the car industry
5 Oct 2021
UK car production down 27% in August amid ongoing chip shortage
Production line
News

UK car production down 27% in August amid ongoing chip shortage

Only 37,246 cars rolled off production lines in the UK in August 2021, but EVs and hybrids took a record market share
30 Sep 2021
Bank holiday traffic expected to return to pre-Covid levels
Traffic
News

Bank holiday traffic expected to return to pre-Covid levels

Congestion is expected over the August bank holiday, but drivers plan on staying closer to home
24 Aug 2021

Most Popular

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
New Hyundai Ioniq 6 targeting Tesla Model 3 with 311-mile range
Hyundai Ioniq 6 - watermarked
Hyundai

New Hyundai Ioniq 6 targeting Tesla Model 3 with 311-mile range

The new Hyundai Ioniq 6 saloon will join the Ioniq 5 in the brand’s all-electric line-up and our exclusive image previews how it could look
21 Oct 2021
New Kia EV6 2021 review
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia EV6

New Kia EV6 2021 review

With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
19 Oct 2021