With 18 million vehicles expected to be on UK roads next weekend, analysts are predicting a miserable couple of days for traffic.

The worst day for seasonal congestin is expected to be Thursday 18th December, when commercial, commuter and leisure traffic will reach its peak and could double journey times across main routes in the UK. That afternoon’s rush hour is expected to be the longest of the year, beginning at around 2pm and lasting until 7.00pm, caused by a unique mix of HGVs making last minute deliveries, commuters leaving work early for holidays, last-minute Christmas shoppers and families travelling to their Christmas destinations.

The outlook is also grim for the following day and the worst blackspots are expected to be the east and west sections of the M25, M1 Luton and East Midlands, M6 between junctions 4 and 10, M60 Manchester, M1 and M621 serving Leeds, A1M leaving Newcastle, M32 from Bristol, and M4 between Newport and Cardiff. So steer clear if at all possible.

A spokesman for Trafficmaster said: “Christmas is typically one of the worst times of the year for traffic volumes and each year the timing of holidays creates a slightly different challenge for travellers. The great unknown is weather, which could journeys much more difficult".

“We’d encourage anyone travelling in the run-up to Christmas to be smart about your journey - plan in advance, get up to date traffic information and alter your journey time to miss these peak periods if you can.”

But the bad news doesn’t end there. Traffic is expected to build again between Boxing Day and the New Year with many heading to shopping centres for the sales and with HGVs back on the roads.