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Get ready for the Great British summer holiday getaway

Press release   •   Jul 18, 2017 00:01 BST

The end of school term will spark the traditional Great British summer holiday getaway this weekend with nearly 9m (8.7m) heading away from Friday through to Sunday.

Data from RAC Traffic Watch* shows the peak of the weekend’s travel will be on Saturday 22 July with 3.4m heavily laden vehicles making a dash for it. Friday will see 2.5m cars vie for road space with commuters while Sunday will have more leisure drivers with 2.8m vehicles expected to be en route to their holiday destinations or simply making the most of a warm July weekend.

Based on the travel plans of over 3,100 UK motorists, the RAC predicts there will be as many as 36.5m leisure journeys made over the 17-day period from Friday 21 July to Sunday 6 August, but no one day will see more holiday traffic than this Saturday (22 July) which marks the beginning of the six-week summer school holidays for most families.

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “This weekend will bring unwelcome customary chaos to Britain’s major roads as people flock to take advantage of the first week or two of the summer holidays on home soil.

“While not as busy as Easter which is typically the pinnacle of leisure traffic due to it being the first break for several months, the Great British summer holiday getaway begins with an initial rush for the roads this weekend as that’s when the majority of schools break up. But, unlike any other time of year, the country’s major tourist routes will remain steadily busy through the rest of the six weeks, never more so than at the weekend with traffic toing and froing from major holiday locations.

“Sadly, for many the very much-needed family summer holiday might begin stressfully as long tailbacks are inevitable, particularly in the South West on the M5 which is the main conduit to the beaches of Devon and Cornwall – although for drivers heading into Cornwall the opening of a new stretch of dual carriageway on the A30 west of Temple should give some relief to the queues.

“The best advice is always to try to travel when the vast majority of motorists aren’t – very early in the morning or late in the evening, but for many, of course, this is just not possible, nor practical. So if you are one vehicle in the 3.4m making a leisure journey on Saturday a healthy dose of patience is going to be required, and keeping everyone in the car happy will be key to that.

“Family in-car entertainment aside, there’s nothing worse than suffering an unexpected breakdown en route to your holiday destination so carrying out some basic vehicle checks before setting out might just help avoid a bad start to that well-earned summer break.”

The RAC has also put together a comprehensive guide to how to avoid breakdowns experienced in warmer weather to help drivers.

2017 summer holiday getaway leisure journeys by car this coming weekend

Friday 21 July 2.5 million journeys
Saturday 22 July 3.4 million journeys
Sunday 23 July 2.8 million journeys
Total 8.7 million journeys

Anticipated worst times to travel on the roads
Friday 21 July Between 1pm and 8pm
Saturday 22 July Between 11am and 4pm
Sunday 23 July Between 11am and 4pm


Anticipated traffic hotspots

  • M5 Almondsbury Interchange and from Bristol to Taunton
  • A30 and A38 Exeter to Cornwall
  • A303 Andover to Ilminster
  • M4 between Cardiff and Swansea
  • M25 between Gatwick and M1
  • A23/M23 to Brighton
  • A34 and M3 south and south west to the south coast
  • A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth
  • A11 Thetford to Norwich
  • M55 between Preston and Blackpool
  • A14 between the Midlands and the east coast
  • A590/A591 between the M6 and the Lake District
  • A66 between M6 and the coast
  • M53 between Liverpool and Chester

Notes to Editors

* Data provided to the RAC by Ragdoll Research. Base: 3,176 motorists, surveyed between 6 and 12 July 2017 

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