‘Be prepared for congestion’ as AA issues amber traffic warning

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The AA has issued an Amber Traffic Warning for today, Friday, December 23, and Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24), as 17 million drivers look to join the annual Christmas getaway. Interchanges connecting the M25 with the M3, M4, M1, M11, M20 and A1(M) are forecast to experience delays over the two-day period.

The AA is predicting traffic to build between 10am and 6pm on Friday, while the main congestion on Saturday could be felt between 10am and 4pm.

Rail strikes have helped contribute to the high number of cars looking to hit the road this Christmas, with major routes linked to the M25 due to carry most of the strain.

An amber traffic warning is designed to prepare motorists around the UK to expect congestion along their journey.

The warnings have been issued as far north as Edinburgh and as far south as Plymouth, with Wales and Northern Ireland being spared of excessive traffic.

In the north, delays are expected to be felt in Cumbria on the M6 interchange with the A69, M62/M60 junctions around Manchester, the A64 between Leeds and York and the M8 surrounding Edinburgh.

The M4/M5 interchange at Bristol is likely to experience heavy congestion throughout the period as well as the M5 at Exeter, while delays are predicted to take place on the M6 Birmingham area and the M11/A14 junction north of Cambridge.

AA’s Route Planner shows numerous warnings near major cities and along some of the most popular and congested roads across the UK.

The recent cold snap has seen a rise in breakdowns for the UK’s number one roadside assistance firm.

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The AA claimed that many breakdowns could have been avoided had drivers carried out pre-travel checks on their cars. 

This includes checking screen wash has not frozen, the condition of tyres and faulty wiper blades.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, warned drivers of the traffic conditions they face when driving this holiday season.

He said: “As people start driving home for Christmas, we are advising those heading out in their cars to be prepared for some congestion, especially on popular routes heading out of London.

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“The rail strikes have convinced more people to travel by car this year, and while hundreds of miles of roadworks have been removed to ease the pain, it might not be enough to keep the queues away.

“During the recent snow and icy weather, we attended numerous breakdowns which could have been avoided completely had their car been checked before leaving. 

“While tyres and oil levels are common items to tick off the list, ensuring screen wash isn’t frozen and wiper blades are in good condition are just as vital, especially with more grit and dirt being kicked up off the road.”

Mr Cousens added that if all motorists spent 10 minutes checking their car before leaving, it could save everyone hours on their journey.

Drivers should also prepare themselves for any long journeys, including carrying warm clothing, water and snacks, as well as entertainment for younger travellers.

AA, alongside emergency services, are also calling on drivers to download the free location app, what3words, when taking to the road this Christmas.

The app enables drivers to precisely communicate their location so breakdown services and emergency service operators can find them quickly and efficiently

Greg Rendell, an AA member since 1983, said: “My car broke down on a busy A road on the way to work last month. 

“I was able to stop in a lay-by and the AA found my location quickly using what3words.” 

For example, drivers can enter join.strict.bound to find the entrance of the Shell Garage of Beaconsfield Services on the M40.

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