“The big day is fast approaching and it’s time to think about driving home for Christmas,” advises Aoife Carragher, head of AA Roadwatch.
As Christmas Eve falls on a Monday, it is expected that Friday, December 21, will see the beginning of the Christmas exodus. A temperature check poll of 250 AA Roadwatch Twitter followers suggests that this most certainly is the case with almost 38 per cent saying they will be on the road on December 21.
Many people will aim to set out early to avoid the usual Christmas rush. However, it is important to remember that other drivers will be thinking the same and there is every chance it will be top to toe in tailbacks by early Friday afternoon.
The main congestion is likely to be experienced on access routes to the motorways. With huge volumes of traffic, delays cannot be avoided by drivers leaving towns and cities to access the main arteries. AA Roadwatch is appealing to motorists to be patient; you will get to your destination, panicking and rushing will not help.
“Our Twitter survey showed that 56 per cent of people taking to the roads over the Christmas period will be undertaking a long journey of over 90 minutes, one they would not regularly make. Drivers need to make sure their car is ready for the journey; that they’ve checked the water, oil and tyres,” says Carragher. “The Christmas exodus is always a busy time for our patrols who even see drivers run out of fuel as they’ve under estimated traffic delays,” she continued.
Roads are likely to be much busier than usual right throughout the weekend. This is the weekend of last minute shopping, of visiting, and final journeys home. More than half of AA Roadwatch’s Twitter followers polled will be making a journey of some kind on Christmas Eve, though these trips are likely to be local and town centres across the country can expect increased volumes as shoppers descend to buy the last litre of milk in the land.
Over the Christmas break many motorists will make the trip to a number of annual events that always attract a loyal crowd. The Leopardstown Christmas Racing Festival runs from Wednesday December 26 to Saturday December 29 with the opening day likely to be busiest. Also running on the same dates is the Limerick Christmas Racing Festival which will bring extra traffic to the Patrickswell area.
Rugby fans will wrap up warm on Saturday 29 as Leinster and Connacht fans head to the RDS and Ulster fans travel south to Thomond Park to take on Munster.
NYE Dublin will take over the city centre on New Year’s Eve. This event proved a huge success in its inaugural year in 2011 and large crowds can be expected again this year.
“In AA Roadwatch we rarely dream of a white Christmas,” says Carragher “and this year it looks like we may be in luck. However, although there may not be a thick coating of snow it is likely that Jack Frost will be nipping at your nose. Icy roads are lethal and extreme caution is needed, particularly on back roads and in sheltered areas.”
Christmas is a great time of year but unfortunately it is also a very difficult time for many remembering loved ones lost on the roads. AA Roadwatch is appealing to drivers again - never ever drink and drive. Also remember to be a responsible passenger; a recent AA survey revealed that 13 per cent of people have travelled with someone they knew to have more than the legal permissible level of alcohol in their system.
The AA Roadwatch team will be on hand right throughout the Christmas period. Follow @aaroadwatch on Twitter or log onto www.aaroadwatch.ie for full details on events, closures, and public transport timetables.