Rising fuel prices add to the cost of Christmas

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- RAC Shares Holiday Congestion Hotspots -

Motorists will also have to pay considerably more for their fuel this year - those with engines running on unleaded petrol will be paying over 20p more per litre this year so it's worth shopping around to get the best price.

The cost of travelling to visit family and friends this Christmas will be higher than last year as fuel prices have risen steadily throughout 2009. With fuel prices nearing their record highs of July 2008 and VAT reverting back to 17.5% in January, it looks like motorists will continue to suffer at the pumps in 2010.

The cost of filling an average tank (55 litres) with unleaded petrol has risen 22% from £49.01* in December 2008 to £59.67* now. The cost for diesel car owners to fill up has also risen, currently costing £60.45* - a rise of 9% from £55.66* in December 2008. RAC advises motorists to plan their route in advance, to avoid wasting either precious time or fuel by taking a wrong turn, by visiting http://www.rac.co.uk/route-planner.

David Hawes, RAC regional manager, says: "As it's an extended holiday period again for many this year, people will be able to stagger their travel arrangements. The sheer volumes of cars on the road and chaos seen in previous years, on any one particular day, is unlikely to materialise. However, RAC predicts that Wednesday, 23 December will be the busiest day as people start to make their getaway. But, with wintry weather forecast we suggest you allow plenty of time for your journey just in case driving conditions are poor.

"Motorists will also have to pay considerably more for their fuel this year - those with engines running on unleaded petrol will be paying over 20p more per litre this year so it's worth shopping around to get the best price."

Considerable congestion should be expected at many large retail locations over the weekend before Christmas (Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 December) as people look for last minute pre-Christmas bargains to complete their festive shopping.

Motorists should be aware that although many of the roadworks will be suspended for the holiday period, speed restrictions and lane closures will still be in place, impacted further by holiday traffic.

Major roadwords that may impact on traffic include:

  • M11 in both directions between J8 Stansted Airport - J9 for Saffron Walden
  • Widening works on the M25 - J16 (for the M40), J18 (for Chorley Wood), J26 (for Waltham Abbey), J28 (for Brentwood) all likely to cause disruption and delays
  • M80 - ongoing roadwords between junctions 4 - 5

Traffic volumes are expected to rise again on Tuesday, 29 and Wednesday, 30 December as people either return home from their Christmas location or travel to catch-up with relatives or friends for New Year.

To find the latest traffic and travel information, visit http://www.rac.co.uk to view interactive realtime video and audio updates on the UK's roads, ferry crossings and London Underground services.

Before heading off, RAC advises motorists to make the following checks:

  • Check tyre pressure (spare tyre too!), tread depth and oil level
  • Check all lights are working correctly and remember to keep them clean
  • Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting
  • Screen wash additive should be added to prevent freezing
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey

In addition, to make sure they have all eventualities covered, motorists should take some warm clothing, water, chocolate, de-icer and a fully charged mobile phone with them in case they break down.

The predicted Christmas getaway congestion hotspots** to avoid include:

From the South East
To the North: M1, A1, A1(M)
To the North West: M1, M6, M6 Toll
To Wales and the West Country: M4 (also for Heathrow), M5
To the South West: M3, A303, M5
To Gatwick: M23
To Stansted: M11

From London
All major routes from Central London to the motorways will be busy for the big get away, including:
A3 through Kingston heading out to the M25
A40 heading out to the M40, particularly the Marylebone flyover from Paddington
A316 through Twickenham and Kew heading out to the M3
Shepherd's Busy - Hammersmith and Chiswick heading out to the M4
Hangar Lane to Gunnersbury heading to the M4
Finchley Road and Hendon Way (A41) heading out to the M1
A406 North Circular both ways heading for the M11
M2 heading out to the M2
A20 heading for the M20

From Birmingham
To London and the South East: M1 or M42/M40
To the SouthCoast: M40/A34
To the South West: M42/M5
To the North: M42/M1 (also E.MidsAirport)
To Scotland & North-West: M6, A74M, M74

North East
Metro Centre - extra traffic on the A1, A19 through the Tyne Tunnel
A19 from Middlesbrough towards York
Middlesbrough - TeesidePark - extra traffic on the A66
A167M Central motorway Newcastle
A1 which becomes the A1M from Northumberland to the M1

Yorkshire & Humberside
The A1237 York outer ring road, A64 to and from York, A171, A170 and A165 can often get busy because of Christmas shopping and the Christmas markets
Delays on the M1 at J34 for Meadowhall
A1079 between Hull and York - often affected by snow, especially around Market Weighton
A180 from Grimsby to the motorway
M621 towards Leeds
M62 over the Pennines between Leeds and Manchester - particularly in poor weather
M606 from Bradford to the M62
M62 around J27 Gildersome - often congested due to the RetailPark and Ikea
M18 towards the M180
A61 between Harrogate and Leeds

North West
M6 both directions around J32
M6 around between J16 - J19
M56 towards North Wales and Cheshire Oaks shopping outlet
Routes in and out of Chester
M60 around J9 and J10 for the Trafford Centre
A66 cross Pennine route between Penrith and Appleby particularly in poor weather as the route often gets a lot of snow

South West
A303 Westbound from Bulford to Stonehenge
A30 from Devon to Cornwall
A38 across Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
M4 Westbound from J19 (Bristol) to J20 (Almondsbury Interchange)
M5 Southbound from J15 (Almondsbury Interchange) to J30 (Exeter) - whole stretch between Bristol and Devon with denser traffic flows over the split level section

South Wales
M4 J29 St Mellons - congestion in both directions
A48(M) leaving Cardiff heading eastbound towards M4 J29
M4 - both directions around the Brynglas Tunnels J26 (Malpas)
M4 westbound into Wales approaching the toll booths

North Wales
A55 Britannia Bridge in both directions, speed restrictions may be in place during adverse weather conditions

Scotland
M8 eastbound from J23 Dumbreck Road, over the KingstonBridge to J16 Townhead
M8 westbound from J11 Stepps to J19 Charing Cross

  • Ends -

Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact:

Vicki Burn, RAC: 07800 692909, vicki(dot)burn(at)aviva(dot)co(dot)uk
Lucy Haughey, RAC: 07800 690149, lucy(dot)haughey(at)aviva(dot)co(dot)uk
Nick Woods, Hill & Knowlton: 0207 413 3515, nick(dot)woods(at)hillandknowlton(dot)com

For full details of RAC Car Data Checks (0800 975 5867) and Vehicle Inspections (0800 085 2529) visit http://www.rac.co.uk

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's breakdown cover, roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and was the top named service organisation in the July 2009 UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in car insurance of Aviva UK Insurance. Aviva is the UK's largest insurer with a market share of around 15 per cent.

RAC is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at http://www.rac.co.uk/press-centre/

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RAC
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