Motorway traffic jam

Forecourts nationwide are preparing for a busy Bank Holiday as the RAC and transport expert INRIX released estimates that Britain’s drivers will make around 19.2m leisure car trips between this Friday and the end of bank holiday Monday - the highest number since before the coronavirus pandemic.

A study of the plans of 2,138 drivers for the last nationwide bank holiday before the end of August suggests Saturday, Sunday and Monday (29 May) will be the busiest for leisure journeys by car with around 3.3m made each day. When it comes to traffic congestion, Friday may turn out to be busiest when a projected 3m getaway trips are made and those seeking to enjoy the long weekend share the roads with those trying to finish their working weeks. A further 6.3m trips are expected to be taken at some point over the four days.

INRIX expect the M25 to be a hotspot for traffic jams over the weekend, with journeys on some stretches – including clockwise from J23 for Hatfield to J28 for Chelmsford and anticlockwise towards the Dartford crossing – taking up to three times longer than normal. Delays are also expected on the M5 in Somerset and M6 in Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With the travel restrictions imposed during Covid now thankfully a distant memory, it’s clear drivers’ desire to getaway has been reignited with our figures for this coming weekend suggesting leisure traffic volumes will be close to what we last saw in 2019.

“The Met Office currently predicts largely settled weather with above average temperatures, so we’re expecting this to be a hectic period on major roads as people aim to make the most of the last long weekend before August – and that means it will be a busy time for our patrols too. What’s more, with so many households under the cosh financially, we’re concerned that a lack of essential maintenance might lead to more avoidable breakdowns than we’d normally see. So we’re reminding everyone to ensure their cars are as a ready for a getaway as they can be – if a vehicle hasn’t been serviced recently, this is the week to get one done by a qualified professional. 

“And, whether a car’s been serviced lately or not, a quick look at oil and coolant levels, together with checking tyres are in good condition and inflated properly, can go a long way to avoiding an unwelcome stop at the side of the road this weekend.”