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Rising Fuel Prices Add To The Cost Of Christmas

Press release   •   Dec 17, 2009 12:22 GMT

RAC Shares Holiday Congestion Hotspots

RAC Shares Holiday Congestion Hotspots

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

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 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

From Birmingham

To London and the South East: M1 or M42/M40

To the South Coast: M40/A34

To the South West: M42/M5

To the North: M42/M1 (also E.Mids Airport)

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 - Teeside Park - 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 Retail Park 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


M8 eastbound from J23 Dumbreck Road, over the Kingston Bridge to J16 Townhead

M8 westbound from J11 Stepps to J19 Charing Cross

- ENDS -

RAC Press office contacts:

Vicki Burn - 01603 684224 or 07800 692909

Lucy Haughey - 01603 688891 or 07800 690149

Erik Nelson - 01603 682264 or 07989 427086

Notes to editors

* Fuel prices sourced from

**Traffic hotspot data supplied by TrafficLink

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 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.

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Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours. ISDN radio studio facilities are available for interviews Monday to Friday.

About the RAC

First formed in 1897, the RAC has been looking after the needs of its members and championing the interests of drivers for more than 120 years.

Today it has more than eight million members and is one of the UK’s most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistanceinsurancebuying a used carvehicle inspections and checkslegal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK drivers at a national level. This includes voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring, particularly the price of fuel and the high level of tax levied on it, advancing levels of road safety, and supporting the needs of all drivers, from young to old.

The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – is one of a kind and provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.

For the very latest news on UK fuel prices, check RAC Fuel Watch. It provides a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump - and tracks these prices daily to help drivers check if the price they pay to fill up is a fair one.