Motorists are planning on doing 13 million separate car trips to see friends and family over the Christmas break, according to new data.

A survey of 1,500 drivers by the RAC found that while many are still planning on driving over the ‘travel window’ between December 23 and 27, a fifth said they wouldn’t be travelling this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The study found that December 23 – the day restrictions are eased – is set to be busiest on the roads, with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day also likely to be the busiest for road travel.

However, the days following the 25th are expected to be much quieter than normal, with just an estimated 1.6m trips planned on traveling on Boxing Day, down from 4.5m in normal times.

A different survey of 1,500 drivers also found that many were planning on doing much shorter journeys than normal, with a quarter saying their longest return trip would be no more than 10 miles.

Rod Dennis, RAC Breakdown spokesman, said: “The pandemic looks set to have a profound effect on drivers’ plans to see family and friends at Christmas time this year. Despite the loosening of restrictions to allow people to meet up as part of ‘festive bubbles’, our figures suggest many drivers aren’t keen – with a fifth saying the coronavirus is the reason why they’re not travelling.

“That’s not to say the roads will be empty over Christmas. Our research indicates millions of leisure journeys on major motorways and A-roads will still be taken, with 23 December being the focus of what will be a much less pronounced Christmas ‘getaway’ than we’ve grown to expect.”

The government also recently announced that it would clear almost 800 miles of wordworks over the Christmas break to ease travel, along with putting extra provisions in place for rail services.