AA Roadwatch predict bumper-to-bumper traffic during Christmas run-up

While the worst of the weather is hopefully behind us, driving home for Christmas is still likely to cause some issues for motorists as AA Roadwatch warn drivers to expect jammed roads in the final days before Christmas.

According to the traffic information provider, traffic levels in Ireland have been at their heaviest in recent years and are unlikely to relent over the season.

While commuter traffic will gradually tail off throughout this week. It is likely to be Friday, 22 December before any major drop offs in traffic levels can be seen. However, this will likely result in busy traffic at shopping centres in other towns around the country on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 December as those travelling home search for last minute gifts. In fact, AA Roadwatch say they regularly see the worst delays occurring in commuter towns.

“Motorists can expect to see a surge in city-centre traffic on Thursday 21 December, as last-minute shoppers try to take advantage of late closing hours to get all of their gifts sorted,” said Elaine O’Sullivan, Editor of AA Roadwatch. “Meanwhile, on Friday 22 December traffic levels will start to build up from 1pm as those leaving city centres around the country make their way home for Christmas before traffic starts to die down again after approximately 4pm.

As for Christmas Day itself, AA Roadwatch say traffic will be light as people are most likely to stay in and spend the day with family or friends and this will also likely be the case on St. Stephen’s Day. However, on the 27th of December local town centres are likely to experience mid to heavy congestion due to retail sales, for which AA Roadwatch are advising shoppers to leave early to avoid queues.

As always both the AA Roadwatch and AA Rescue teams will be working over the Christmas period, meaning that even if the weather takes a turn for the worst or you experience a Christmas motoring nightmare help will still be at hand. However, as most garages will be closed for the festive break, The AA is reminding motorists of the importance of carrying out basic maintenance checks before they set off, such as topping up windscreen wash, checking and cleaning headlights, and adjusting tyre pressures for a full load, if required.

Last year, AA Rescue attended to 248 breakdowns on Christmas Eve and a further 47 on Christmas Day, down from 294 Christmas Eve and 108 Christmas Day breakdowns in 2015. Meanwhile, between New Year’s Eve 2016 and New Year’s Day 2017 the company’s rescue services attended 416 breakdowns, up from 602 in the same period in the year previous.

“Last year we had an exceptionally mild winter which helped reduce the number of breakdowns we saw between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, this year we’ve seen a significant cold snap which has made the AA Rescue team significantly busier and we expect that trend to carry on into the Christmas period,” O’Sullivan added. “The last thing you want when you’re trying to fit in all the family visits is to find yourself stuck with a flat battery. Thankfully our technicians have all the necessary know-how to get you back on the road safely”

The AA app is now the quickest way for Members to report a breakdown and allows users to track their Patrol’s arrival on their smartphone – even on Christmas Day. The new app also contains to-the-minute Roadwatch updates for all traffic routes.

AA Rescue tips to ensure your Christmas in a merry one:

  • Not all service stations are open on the 25th – remember to fuel-up in advance using the correct fuel type
  • Make sure to have a spare wheel as a lot of tyre centres and garages are closed
  • To avoid your battery going flat remember to switch off all headlights, interior lights, heaters and the radio when leaving your car
  • Keep a pair of jump leads in your boot
  • Prepare an in-car safety kit to include: a demisting cloth, de-icer, shovel, salt/sand, AA Membership card, torch, warning triangle

*AA Roadwatch are predicting heavy traffic on the following routes in the lead-up to Christmas:

  • M50 southbound from J7 Lucan to J17 M11
  • M7 Dublin/ Limerick Rd especially between J6 Castlewarden and J10 Naas South
  • N40 South Ring Rd in Cork City; particularly between J6 Kinsale Rd and the Dunkettle Interchange
  • N11 Dublin/ Wexford Rd from J5 Bray North to Kilmacanogue
  • N4/ M4 Dublin/ Sligo Rd from Chapelizod Bypass to J7 Maynooth and also further west through Carrick on Shannon
  • N21 Limerick/ Tralee Rd past Patrickswell to Adare and then again to go through Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale
  • N18 Limerick/ Galway Rd through Gort and again further north from Clarinbridge to Oranmore
  • N20 Cork/ Limerick Rd between Mallow and Buttevant

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