DRIVERS heading home for Christmas and commuters leaving work will lead to a ‘Frantic Friday’ on the roads this December 22.

Up to 1.25 million leisure journeys are expected to take place on the Friday, on top of those leaving work – and the RAC has strongly urged those planning long journeys to avoid the chaotic clash if possible.

Delays are likely on the usual hotspots of the M4 around Newport while the closure of London Paddington on Christmas Eve and 27 December will hit rail travellers.

In total, as many as 11.5 million festive getaway trips are expected before Christmas Day, with Christmas Eve another anticipated peak time for congestion.

The day before Christmas will see an expected 1.87 million separate leisure journeys made as families and friends make last-minute dashes to spend the big day together.

The Christmas Eve period between 10am and 2pm is set to be particularly busy, RAC Traffic Watch data suggests.

Highways England has announced that 99% of England’s motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks during the busy festive run-in.

But RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis reminds drivers “it only takes a single accident or breakdown in some locations to bring traffic grinding to a halt.”

Mr Dennis said: “As always, the message to drivers is to plan ahead and try to avoid peak times if you can. Depending on where you live in the UK, schools have been breaking up since Friday 15 December so if you have a chance to complete your journey sooner than the end of next week then it might be a good idea to do that.

“Don’t let an avoidable breakdown get in the way of you reaching your destination this Christmas. A few moments now spent checking the condition of your car could save hours stuck in the dark.”

The RAC anticipates a fairly even spread of pre-Christmas traffic, averaging out at 1.4 million getaways each day until Saturday 23.

Factoring in trips to visit friends, widespread football fixtures and trips to hit the sales, Boxing Day is likely to see a high concentration of traffic – with as many as 5.3 million separate journeys planned.

Overall though, the period between 25 December and New Year’s Day will see far more leisure trips than before Christmas, with up to 17.5 million planned.