UK drivers are being told to expect daily delays from Monday, December 18 until Christmas Day.

It comes as 21 million leisure trips are estimated to take place, with getaway traffic to between 2.2m trips on Thursday and 3.2m on Friday, the RAC said.

Over the pre-Christmas weekend, around 13.5m leisure trips by car will take place between Friday and Christmas Eve, seeing a 20% increase from 2022.

Drivers are also being told to expect congestion on Friday as getaway traffic causes traffic on the roads.

Drivers told to expect delays this Christmas

During the weekend before Christmas, between 12pm and 2pm is expected to be the busiest time to travel on the roads.

Drivers are advised to set out before 11am or after 6pm to reduce the chance of being stuck in long queues.

National Highways said it will remove more than 1,000 miles of roadworks on England’s motorways and major A roads by 6am on Tuesday.

That means more than 98% of its network will be free of roadworks until January 2.

Transport analysis company Inrix warned there are likely to be “daily delays of around 40 minutes” between Friday and Christmas Eve on the M25 clockwise west of London.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Between 12pm and 2pm is expected to be the busiest time to travel on the roads.Between 12pm and 2pm is expected to be the busiest time to travel on the roads. (Image: PA)

It predicted the worst queues on the motorway network will be on the M25 clockwise between junction 7 (for the M23/Gatwick airport) and junction 16 (for the M40/Birmingham) on Friday.

Drivers heading anti-clockwise between junction 17 (Rickmansworth) and junction 12 (for the M3) on the same day are also being warned to prepare for hold-ups.

Other motorway stretches identified as potential hotspots include the M1 north from Woburn, Bedfordshire to Daventry, Northamptonshire and the M6 south from Wigan, Greater Manchester to Stafford, Staffordshire.

RAC spokeswoman Alice Simpson said: “Since Christmas falls on a Monday this year, there’s no need for drivers to use annual leave for getaway trips as they can travel over the weekend before.

“For that very reason, our research suggests these days will be the busiest times to drive, so we urge people to set off as early as possible on Saturday and Sunday.”

She advised drivers to carry out vehicle checks before setting off, such as on tyres, fuel, oil, coolant and screenwash.

Inrix transportation analyst Bob Pishue said: “Our recommendation is to avoid peak commuting hours and use traffic apps to minimise holiday travel traffic frustrations.”