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Millions head for Christmas getaway


NEARLY four million Britons will be heading abroad for the festive period, with those staying at home promised a wet rather than a white Christmas.

Road, rail and aviation will all be under pressure tomorrow which is predicted to be the busiest day of the Christmas getaway.

At home, roads are expected to be packed tomorrow, although a number of major route roadworks have been completed or are being suspended during the festive period.

Forecasters said heavy rain would persist in many areas for much of the next few days, with temperatures well above normal and as high as 14C (57F) in southern England on Sunday.

On the roads, the Highways Agency, which is responsible for all of England's motorway and major A-roads, said more than 250 miles of roadworks will have been completed before Christmas.

In addition, a further 57 miles of works will be suspended between tomorrow and January 2.

But works remain in place at 19 locations covering nearly 100 miles.

These include the M4 between junctions 10 and 11 at Reading in Berkshire, the M25 at junctions 5 and 6 near Godstone in Surrey and the M5 between junctions 19 and 21 near Bristol.

The AA said the busiest days on the roads were expected to be tomorrow and Saturday, with 60% of AA members likely to take to the roads over the festive period.

Northern Ireland drivers were most likely to get behind the wheel over Christmas, with the Welsh least likely to.

The busiest roads this weekend are likely to be the M25, the M6 in the West Midlands, the M1 near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, the M5 near Bristol and the M62 near Warrington in Cheshire.

Car insurance company Axa said that in the last three years accident claims for the period December 19-24 were 28% higher than for the rest of the month.

According to Halfords Autocentres, 59% of drivers ignore traffic reports and 36% do not check what weather they are likely to encounter on their travels.

A MoneySupermarket poll showed that 76% of drivers admitted taking their eyes off the road at some point, while 54% owned up to changing music while at the wheel, with 47% eating while driving.

Esure car insurance said as many as 23 million drivers could take to the roads over the holiday period, with many people planning to leave work early tomorrow.

An esure poll showed 33% dread the Christmas getaway, with 57% concerned about the weather and driving conditions and 41% worried about traffic jams.

Another survey, from Asda Money, revealed that 61% of motorists do not service their car before they hit the road in winter.

Only 30% of drivers check the anti-freeze, only 17% test their tyres and 49% never check their oil.

As many as 26% of drivers intend to drink and drive over the festive period, according to a poll by the Post Office.

The biggest risk-takers are those in their 20s, with the worst offenders - in all age groups - likely to be from London and south east England.

A poll by the RAC showed that 18% of 17 to 24-year-olds admitted knowing, or believing, they had driven under the influence of drink.

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