Skip to content
View of motorway traffic from RAC Bescot
View of motorway traffic from RAC Bescot

Press release -

RAC predicts ‘traffic overdrive’ as schools break up for summer

As schools break up for the summer this week the UK’s major roads will be thrown into ‘traffic overdrive’ from Thursday to Sunday with 14.4m cars heading off on holiday, new figures from RAC Traffic Watch show.*

A study of nearly 1,300 motorists’ plans reveals Saturday is due to be the single busiest day with 4.5m leisure journeys expected – that’s 1.6m more than the same Saturday last year. In fact the RAC estimates the 2016 end-of-term getaway will lead to 5.4m more car trips from Thursday to Sunday than last year.

So-called Black Friday when millions of motorists make an early dash to beat the traditional Saturday holiday traffic is believed this year to be worse than ever with 3.3m holiday-laden cars joining normal rush-hour traffic – this is 700,000 more than seen in 2015. And unusually, Sunday traffic levels are expected to be close to the Saturday high with 4.2m holiday car trips planned.

RAC traffic spokesman Simon Williams said: “Our data shows that the 2016 end-of-term rush for the roads is likely to be dramatically worse than last year’s. Many will inevitably suffer the effects of this traffic overdrive as they look to begin their long-awaited summer holidays.

“The end of the summer school term is always marked by millions of cars heading for their holiday destinations but this year’s getaway looks like it will be bigger than ever as the volume of traffic builds from 2.4m cars on Thursday to a peak of 4.5m on Saturday. Perhaps the normal numbers who have booked to go away are being boosted by opportunists who are looking to make the most of the coming weekend in the belief that Britain is finally due to have a protracted spell of sunny summer weather.

“If you are one of the 14.4m motorists heading for holiday this weekend from Thursday the best advice is to hit the road as early as you can. Avoiding peak travel times is not easy, but it can mean several less hours spent in the car.”

The RAC recommends drivers plan their trips carefully by trying to avoid the busiest times – Friday evening is likely to be especially hectic on major routes, as is Saturday from late morning to mid-afternoon.

Simon Williams added: “The South West will no doubt be a key destination for hundreds of thousands of motorists. Outside the RAC building at Bristol where the M4 and the M5 converge is always a hotspot for traffic heading to Devon and Cornwall on any summer weekend. This weekend, however, it’s likely to be even more congested. If that’s your route, then the sooner you can get beyond this on Friday or Saturday the better.”

As well as packing the car, the RAC advises motorists to make sure their cars are well prepared too. Carrying out some simple checks before you set out, especially if you are planning on travelling a long distance, can prevent an unwanted breakdown. The best advice is to check oil, coolant and washer fluid levels and ensure all tyres have plenty of tread. And, with Mediterranean temperatures forecast for the coming week make sure you pack plenty of refreshments for you and your passengers.

To plan your route visit

End of summer term car journeys this year

Thursday 21 July 2.4 million journeys
Friday 22 July 3.3 million journeys
Saturday 23 July 4.5 million journeys
Sunday 24 July 4.2 million journeys
Total 14.4 million journeys
Late spring journeys this year compared to previous years – Thursday to Sunday*
2015 9 million journeys
2016 14.4 million journeys
Anticipated worst times to travel on the roads
Friday 22 July Between 4pm and 9pm
Saturday 23 July Between 11am and 4pm
Sunday 24 July Between 11am and 4pm


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

RAC press office: 01454 664 123 /



Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press office team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours.

Our press team can:

  • Answer all RAC-related media enquiries
  • Provide comment on all topical UK motoring stories
  • Provide motoring research and data to inform debate
  • Give motoring advice for broadcast or publication
  • Arrange interviews with RAC spokespeople - ISDN radio studio facilities available

You can also follow the RAC press office on Twitter:

About the RAC

With more than eight million members, the RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, buying a used car, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK motorists at a national level, including advancing levels of road safety, supporting the needs of young drivers and voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring. The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.

For the very latest news on UK fuel prices, check RAC Fuel Watch or follow #racfuelwatch on Twitter. This is a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump. RAC Fuel Watch analyses how prices changed through the previous month and compares the most recent prices with those from three, six and 12 months before.

Key facts:

  • RAC patrols fix four out of five vehicles at the roadside and on average within 30 minutes
  • RAC vans carry more than 500 parts and tools to get members’ vehicles going again
  • 92% of members would recommend RAC Rescue to their friends and family

Press contacts

Contact the RAC Press Office (media only)

Contact the RAC Press Office (media only)

Press contact

Related stories