Drivers planning 13m trips this Christmas – but thousands won’t be travelling due to Covid concerns

Drivers are planning to undertake around 13 million separate trips by car to see friends and family during the coronavirus ‘travel window’ between December 23 and 27.

However new data, released by the RAC, shows that almost a fifth of motorists don’t expect to make any such journeys because of the ongoing effect of coronavirus.

A survey of 1,500 people conducted by the breakdown assistance provider has found that the greatest number of individual trips look set to take place in the first day that travel restrictions are eased in England, Scotland and Wales – Wednesday, December 23. After that, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are expected to see respective journey numbers of 2.8m and 2.5m.

A further 2.1m expect to travel between December 23 and 27 but aren’t sure on which day they’ll be conducting their journey.

Rod Dennis, RAC Breakdown spokesman, said: “The pandemic looks set to have a profound effect on drivers’ plans to see family and friends at Christmas time this year. Despite the loosening of restrictions to allow people to meet up as part of ‘festive bubbles’, our figures suggest many drivers aren’t keen – with a fifth saying the coronavirus is the reason why they’re not travelling.

“That’s not to say the roads will be empty over Christmas. Our research indicates millions of leisure journeys on major motorways and A-roads will still be taken, with 23 December being the focus of what will be a much less pronounced Christmas ‘getaway’ than we’ve grown to expect.

“An estimated 5.3m trips to see family and friends will take place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day combined, roughly in line with other years – and we expect many of these to be more local journeys.”

In total, more than half aren’t planning on visiting friends or family by car at all, with 22 per cent of these respondents saying that their reason for this was the coronavirus pandemic. The remainder said it was because of other reasons.

Journey numbers are expected to drop off dramatically after Christmas Day, with an estimated 1.6m journeys expected to be undertaken on Boxing Day – down considerably on the 4.5m journeys usually conducted.

A further survey of 1,500 people found that nearly six-in-10 expect their longest return trip to be no more than 50 miles, while 25 per cent said that it will be just 10 miles. Just over a quarter say that their longest planned trip will be over 100 miles.

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