traffic jam

Drivers are set to embark on up to 17m leisure trips by car this Easter bank holiday, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday set to see the largest number of journeys made, leading to long delays in parts of the south and west of the UK, new figures suggest.

Research by the RAC and data from transport analytics specialist INRIX show there’s every chance Good Friday could turn out to be a ‘bad’ Friday for drivers this year. With an estimated 2.7m ‘getaway’ trips expected that day, major roads in the south west of England and through some of the home counties are most likely to experience the longest delays. The A303 westbound near Stonehenge, M5 south between Bristol and Bridgwater and M25 anticlockwise between Hertfordshire and Surrey are predicted to see more than twice the normal amount of traffic, with vehicle speeds reduced to just 12mph at some points in the day.

Easter Sunday is forecast to see a similar number of leisure journeys being made by drivers (2.7m), with Easter Saturday and Easter Monday only slightly less busy with 2.3m separate trips each. But it appears a large number of drivers are waiting to see what the great British weather has in store before deciding which day to jump in the car – with the potential for another 7m trips to be staggered throughout the long weekend.

And with planned engineering work on the railway, including the closure of London Euston station over the whole weekend, more people look certain to be forced onto the roads. The good news for drivers, if there is some, is that National Highways is temporarily lifting around 1,400 miles of roadworks from Thursday to help alleviate the queues. 

Separate RAC research found just one-in-five drivers (19%) routinely check their cars are ‘road-ready’ before making an Easter trip, increasing the potential for breakdowns to ruin the start of many people’s breaks. Half of drivers (51%) said they sometimes checked their cars over before setting out but an alarming 30% said they never do.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With many people keen to make the most of the double bank holiday this Easter weekend, we’re expecting the customary jams across parts of the road network to make this Good Friday a bad Friday for drivers, especially those who are planning on covering longer distances. Traffic volumes could be even higher if the sun chooses to make a welcome appearance.

“The south and west of the UK are the areas to watch as they’re home to some vital roads responsible for carrying vast numbers of people to the holiday destinations of the West Country – so our advice to anyone heading that way is to get on the road as early as possible on Good Friday, or travel on a different day entirely.”

The RAC recommends drivers check that tyres have plenty of tread and are properly inflated, and that oil, coolant and screenwash are all at the right levels under the bonnet.