Nothing says 'Merry Christmas' quite like bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to see your relatives.
Millions of Canadians drive to and from their holiday destinations each year, meaning millions of cars are on the road. Pair that with unpredictable weather and rushed outings to get last-minute gifts and you have an ultimate recipe for holiday traffic disaster.
For the unfortunate folks who will be travelling by car this holiday season, traffic app Waze has figured out the best times to hit the road. Using data from the same week in 2015, here are its predictions for holiday traffic:
The worst times to drive:
Rush hour starts at 11AM, so make sure you're on the road before then. Definitely don't be on the road between 3PM and 6PM when rush hour meets holiday traffic or you'll be bumper-to-bumper with a literal nightmare before Christmas.
Christmas eve has steady, congested traffic all day with a peak in the evening, thanks to last-minute shoppers.
The Sunday after Christmas is statistically one of the worst driving days of the year, so avoid driving home on this day at all costs. In 2014, that day saw an 87.7% increase in traffic jams, a 13.7% increase in accidents, and a 23.2% increase in road hazards. Sunday is likely to be the most hazardous day on the road, with people returning home to get back to work.
The best times to drive:
Also known as Christmas. Many hardcore travellers have known for years that the best day to travel is Xmas Day itself. And, let's be honest, what do you really do after you open presents anyway? So skip Christmas dinner or just leave straight after. Waze reports the 25th to be one of the lightest traffic days of the year.
Waze predicted Boxing Day as having the same traffic as any other non-holiday weekend. So this may be a safe bet on when to travel home.
You'll find light traffic in the morning with a slow buildup all day. In 2015, Waze predicted this day as a much less stressful day on the road, particularly if you leave after noon.
Other times to note are December 23rd, when Waze users reported 19.78% more accidents, more than any other holiday travel day. On the 27th, 32.69% more police are reported on the roads. Same goes with the 28th, when there is a 15.8% increase in cops.
Most road hazards are reported on the 27th, with 23.2% more hazards reported than normal, followed by Wednesday at 16.37%. Keep in mind your local weather may affect this too. And the absolute worst time to be on the road? The Sunday after Christmas between 2 and 6pm.
If you're thinking of some last minute shopping, the navigation app analyzed driving patterns in years past on Christmas Eve to show us what we might expect over the holidays. The most popular time frame for last-minute shopping fell between 10am and 4pm on the 24th, with a 16% increase in routes to retail stores. Trips to the grocery store are around the same time, with a 34% increase between 10am and 3pm.
Basically, don't forget anything and just sit tight and enjoy more leftovers while the holiday traffic dies down.