Motorists facing misery as millions begin Christmas getaway

Commuters, holidaymakers and those driving home for Christmas could face motoring misery on Friday, as millions of people take to the country's roads on the busiest travel day of the festive season.

Traffic expected to peak at around 4pm, when workers begin to wave goodbye to their offices, and the school run gets under way.

The AA predicts that drivers will be bonnet-to-boot in tailbacks, and face delays on the M25, the M5 near Bristol and the M6 near Birmingham, among others.

In addition, drivers could get held up in delays on the M1, as well as the the M62 and M60 in the North West.

Drivers in Northern Ireland could be facing the biggest delays, with an estimated 65% of people there taking to the roads on Friday, while London may miss out on the surge, with most people there heading to main roads and motorways outside the city.

In total, it is thought that the number of those travelling on Thursday and Friday this week will be around 17 million, ahead of the traditional last-minute shopping rush on Saturday, with 31 million trips taken by Christmas Day.

The AA adds that with Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday, it could mean journeys are spread out over the next few days, rather than people travelling across one day.

People are being advised to plan ahead when travelling, in an effort to reduce breakdowns and to make journeys smoother.

Weather conditions could play a part in the planning, with the Met Office warning drivers to be prepared for flash flooding on Friday, due to heavy rainfall.

The railways will also face pressure from festive travellers over the next few days, particularly in London and the south east, where South Western Railway are still undertaking industrial action.

Network Rail are also carrying out more than 380 engineering projects over the Christmas period, particularly focused in the capital, with Kings Cross, Paddington and Liverpool Street likely to be the worst affected hubs.

In the skies, easyJet has announced that Friday will be their busiest festive flying day, with more than 146,000 people taking to the skies with them, with Paris, Amsterdam and Geneva its top destinations.