Between now and Boxing Day motorists are expected to make over 28 million journeys on major roads, the RAC has estimated.
Research by RAC Traffic Watch suggests that Christmas Eve will be the busiest day on the roads with 3.8m journeys planned.
RAC also suggests that this Friday could see up to 3.5 million holiday journeys sharing the network with the last day of ‘regular’ traffic.
Visiting friends and family over Christmas will cost motorists more than in any other period in 2016, with the average tank of petrol costing £6 more than this time last year. The average tank of diesel will cost £5.56 more than in December 2015.
However, drivers may take the opportunity to space out their journeys due to Christmas falling on a weekend for the first time in five years.
Rob Dennis, RAC Traffic Watch spokesman, said: “The fact we have a lengthy ‘pre-Christmas stretch’ this year is not to say there won’t at times be heavy traffic on the road network through the week, perhaps peaking on the 23rd when many workers finish for Christmas and leisure and commuter traffic take to the roads together.
“But we’re hopeful things won’t be quite as pressured on our motorways and major A-roads this year as they have been before.”
If you’re driving a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, it currently costs an average of £63.44 to fill the tank, over £6 more than the cost in 2015.
Mr Dennis continues: “The latest information from the Met Office suggests a fairly dull, mid and occasionally damp run-up to Christmas – we will be monitoring the forecast closely through next week but right now we’re not anticipating any particularly tricky driving conditions.
“But breakdowns tend to happen when drivers lease expect them, so it pays to be prepared and take a few moments to make sure the family car is in best condition for a long drive.
“A handy acronym to remember is FORCES. If every motorists remembers to check fuel, oil, rubber, coolant, electrics and screenwash before setting out they have the best chance of avoiding an unscheduled stop at the side of the road – and the potential for a late start to Christmas.”