• UK’s drivers’ typical festive travel plans include setting off on Christmas Eve, visiting friends and family, travelling 169 miles, but basic car checks are off the Christmas list

• 3.5 million plan to set off on overnight trips on Christmas Eve

• December 23 expected to be busiest day for garages

Christmas driving Kwik Fit 5b52e39d-1604-df8e-9564-e64aecc3afcb

UK drivers are set to travel 6.3 billion miles by car over the festive period, with seven in 10 people making at least one car journey to visit friends, family or go on a Christmas holiday, according to the latest research from servicing and repair company Kwik Fit.

However, the research also shows that many of those motorists will fail to check their tyres, screen wash, oil or coolant - an opportunity for forecourt retailers to help.

According to the study, between December 21 – January 2, the average Brit heading out in their car will make just over three trips (3.2) to see friends, family or set off on a Christmas break.  Although many people use the festive period as an opportunity to keep the car in the driveway, over one million people will be making 11 or more holiday journeys by car. 

Those taking to the roads over Christmas and New Year will travel an average of 169 miles, although 2% (around 800,000 people) say they will travel more than 1,000 miles during the holidays. Despite the huge mileage being covered by the nation’s drivers, over a third say they won’t make any checks on their vehicle before setting off.

Of those travelling to see friends or family or going on holiday by car, just over half (18.9m) will be staying over for at least one night.  Christmas Eve is going to be the busiest day for getaways, with one fifth (19%) of those heading off for overnight trips - some 3.5 million people - taking to the roads that day.

Those in the West Midlands are going to travel the furthest by car during the festive season, with an average of 227 miles to be travelled by those in the region. Londoners will be going the second longest distance by car, with those heading out of the capital covering an average of 222 miles.  In contrast, Scots are staying closer to home during the holidays, with the average total distance travelled by those north of the border being just 126 miles.

Kwik Fit says that over the last three years, it has seen the busiest demand on December 23, with many drivers discovering last-minute problems as they get ready to head off on Christmas journeys. The company is advising all drivers to plan ahead as much as possible after its research showed that many motorists will neglect to make checks on their car before setting off on festive trips.

The researchers found that of those travelling over 500 miles by car during the festive period, less than half (46%) said they would be checking their tyre pressures and only a third (34%) would check their tyre tread.  Fewer than two in five drivers are going to check their screen wash level (39%) with even fewer checking their oil level (37%) or coolant (27%). 

One in six (17%) who are setting out on lengthy car trips (over 500 miles) say they will make none of the basic vehicle checks.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “Our research has shown that the vast majority of us will be taking to the roads at some point over the festive period, but worryingly, many drivers will not be ensuring that their car is prepared for the journey. Christmas Eve is going to be a very busy day on the roads, but most garages will be closed so we are encouraging motorists to check their car well in advance to make sure there are no unpleasant Christmas surprises.”