Tomorrow is predicted to be the busiest getaway day of the festive season, with more than 14 million people taking to the roads.
Motoring organisations have warned drivers to set off early to get ahead of the rush but the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says that jams on major routes will cause big problems for operators who are trying to deliver Christmas.
Four hundred miles of roadworks are being cleared off motorways and A-roads over the holidays. Highways England announced it will be completing or pausing 148 projects by 6am on Wednesday 23 December – representing 98% of roadworks currently underway – to help with the Christmas getaway. The break will last until midnight on 2 January.
But that won’t help ease the delays this weekend – and the FTA says keeping routes free-running all year round is vital to the UK’s logistics industry.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Policy, said:
“This demonstrates what can be done to help motorists when needed. Delays create cost for the industry. It costs £1 a minute for a 44-tonne HGV to stand still in traffic and there is also the knock-on effect when contracts can’t be delivered on time and deadlines are missed. All of this piles addition financial pressure on operators who work on very tight profit margins.”
Mr Bingham said motorists were often frustrated by traveling through roadworks which seemingly have nothing happening on them, and he called on Highways England to keep people better informed.
“We have seen some sense in the last few weeks where cones have been taken away on a stretch of smart motorway in Yorkshire which has all but been completed apart from some works to finish off and test the system. Why can we not give the road user normal running lanes when there is no work going on and, if there are good reasons for keeping traffic management in place, let the motorist know why?” he said.