Around 15 million leisure car journeys are expected to be taken in the run-up to Good Friday, with a further 12 million across the bank holiday weekend itself, new figures from the RAC show.
Research of drivers’ travel plans* suggests that while tomorrow (Monday) will be particularly busy with some 4.7m individual getaway trips by car taking place, there is expected to be sustained levels of leisure traffic in the run-up to Good Friday, a day when there are around 4.4m journeys expected to be taken by road.
Traffic data from mobility analytics provider INRIX indicates that jams will peak on Good Friday, with major routes clogging up between 11am and 4.30pm. The worst delays on this day are expected on the M5 southbound, passing west of Bristol (J16 to J19) – part of the popular holiday route towards Devon and Cornwall – the M25 anticlockwise from Bromley (J4) through the Dartford Tunnel to the A13 (J30), the M6 north between Preston (J31) and Lancaster (J34), and the M62 west between Leeds (J27) and Manchester (J18) where delays of around an hour are expected.
Fortunately for drivers, 99% of the motorways and major A-roads in England will be free of roadworks, with Highways England removing more than 450 miles of cones in time for the Easter bank holiday.
RAC Traffic Watch spokesperson Rod Dennis said:
“This week we’re expecting a significant second wave of Easter getaway traffic, following that which we saw at the start of April when schools broke up. This will mean the coming week and the bank holiday will likely be characterised by lengthy queues in some spots.
“Traffic jams are frustrating at the best of times and while we can predict where some of these will crop up, it only takes a single bump or breakdown for huge tailbacks to form.
"But there’s a lot drivers can do to reduce the likelihood their car will fail them, and in fact a lot of the breakdowns our patrols attend are completely avoidable if drivers had checked over their cars before they set out. Wrongly inflated tyres, or those with a lack of tread, along with low oil and coolant levels and even a lack of fuel are all typical breakdowns at this time of year. It’s therefore vital motorists spend a few moments checking these things before getting behind the wheel.”
Dan Croft, Incident Group Operations Manager at INRIX, said:
“Drivers in the UK are all too familiar with traffic jams. In fact, the average UK driver lost more than 170 hours to congestion last year. During peak hours over Easter, journeys could take UK drivers three times longer than usual. We are predicting Good Friday will be the worst for traffic from late morning into the afternoon. For drivers looking to avoid the worst congestion, the best options are to travel on Saturday, set off early in the morning and keep updated with real-time traffic data.”
Deputy Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, Martin Young, said:
“After what’s been a rather cold month so far, temperatures are going to rise this week with plenty of warm, dry and sunny weather to start off the Easter weekend. It’ll be very warm for the time of year in many parts of the UK on Friday and Saturday, with many places in the south seeing temperatures above 20 Celsius. Things will probably turn more unsettled later in the long weekend, with cooler weather starting to arrive on Sunday from the northwest.”
Highways England’s customer service director Melanie Clarke said:
“We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Easter and that’s why we’re keeping around 99% of the road network we manage, free from roadworks.
“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”
At-a-glance: Easter traffic
Estimated 11.9m leisure trips by car between Monday 15 and Wednesday 17 April
|Date||Leisure trips by car||Worst times to travel on major roads||Best times to travel on major roads||Expected longest delays on major roads (breakdowns or collisions can significantly increase journey times across the road network)|
|Thursday, 18 April||3.4m||Between 2.30pm and 7pm||Before 11am or after 9pm||M25 clockwise J8 to J16: 57-minute delay from 1.45pm M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11: 50-minute delay from 4.30pm|
|Good Friday, 19 April||4.4m||Between 11am and 4.30pm||Before 9.30am or after 7pm||M62 west between J27 and J18: 56-minute delay from 12.45pm M6 north between J31 and J34: 39-minute delay from 3.30pm|
|Saturday, 20 April||2.8m||Between 11am and 2pm||Before 9.30am or after 5pm||A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 22-minute delay from 11.15am M4 west between J22 and J29: 17-minute delay from 5.15pm|
|Easter Sunday, 21 April||2.8m||Between 11am and 12.30pm||Before 10am or after 3.30pm||M25 anticlockwise between J20 and J11: 17-minute delay from 12pm A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 13-minute delay from 12pm|
|Easter Monday, 22 April||2.2m||Between 12.30pm and 2.30pm||Before 10.30am or after 6.30pm||M25 clockwise between J8 and J16: 22-minute delay from 2pm M25 anticlockwise between J4 and J30: 21-minute delay from 2.15pm|
Data sources: INRIX and RAC
In full: roads with the longest expected delays
|Date and region||Road||Peak congestion from||Travel time (mins)||Total delay (mins)|
|Thursday 18 April|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J8 to J16||1.45pm||91||57|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11||4.30pm||88||50|
|East Midlands||M1 north J21 to J26||2.45pm||81||49|
|West Midlands||M6 south J20 to J16||7.45am||64||39|
|South West||M5 south J16 to J19||4.15pm||27||17|
|Good Friday, 19 April|
|North West||M62 west J27 to J18||12.45pm||85||56|
|North West||M6 north J31 to J34||3.30pm||62||39|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||1.30pm||47||32|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J4 to J30||11.45am||44||30|
|South West||M5 south J16 to J19||11.45am||30||21|
|Saturday, 20 April|
|South West||A303 west Salisbury Road to A350||11.15am||51||22|
|Wales||M4 west J22 to J29||5.15pm||38||17|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||12pm||33||14|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J20 to J28||12.45pm||46||13|
|Easter Sunday, 21 April|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11||12pm||42||17|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||11.30am||31||13|
|South West||A303 west Salisbury Road to A350||12pm||40||13|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J8 to J16||11.45am||45||11|
|Scotland||M8 east J29 to J15||11am||13||3|
|Easter Monday, 22 April|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J8 to J16||2pm||54||22|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J4 to J30||2.15pm||40||21|
|West Midlands||M6 south J20 to J16||6pm||43||20|
|South East||M3 north J14 to J7||2.15pm||30||11|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||4.45pm||25||10|
Top tips for avoiding - or just coping - with the jams
|1||Think carefully about when you’re travelling||Most traffic queues are caused by too many cars on the same roads at the same time. If you can travel outside the peak times – think early in the morning or later in the evening – you can easily miss them.|
|2||Make sure your car, and anything you are towing, are up to the job…||Many breakdowns are avoidable – punctures for instance can be caused by a tyre that is in poor condition or not inflated properly. Check oil and coolant levels as if these run low you could be in for an unwelcome breakdown and a big repair bill.|
|3||…and make sure you and your passengers are as well||Hungry, thirsty or tired passengers are recipes for in-car irritability – and ‘carguments’. So when setting out, pack enough food and water to keep your passengers happy, and plan in enough breaks along the way.|
Notes to Editors
* About the data in this release: planned leisure trips based on RAC survey of drivers’ travel plans (sample size 1,800 UK motorists); congestion information based on INRIX data. Globally, INRIX analyses 500 Terabytes of data from 300 million different sources covering over 5 million miles of road. The data used is the congested or uncongested status of every segment of road for every minute of the day
For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours. ISDN radio studio facilities are available for interviews Monday to Friday.
About the RAC
First formed in 1897, the RAC has been looking after the needs of its members for more than 120 years.
Today it has more than eight million members and 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 supports the interests of its members and UK drivers at a national level. This includes voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring, particularly the price of fuel and the high level of tax levied on it, advancing levels of road safety, and supporting the needs of all drivers, from young to old.
The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – is one of a kind and 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. It provides a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump - and tracks these prices daily to help drivers check if the price they pay to fill up is a fair one.
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as companies large and small. Learn more at INRIX.com.