Busiest summer getaway since 2014 expected - the best and worst times to travel

Drivers are expected to take more than 13m separate summer getaway trips between this Friday and the end of the weekend, the highest number in five years and 4m more than in 2018, according to a study by the RAC and INRIX.*

RAC research suggests ‘Frantic Friday’ at the end of this week, the day many school terms end, will see some 5.3m separate getaways by car taking place which, when added to the normal daily traffic seen on a Friday, could mean it’s the worst day for congestion.

Saturday also looks busy with 5m leisure trips planned, followed by a further 3.4m on Sunday.

Data from INRIX, the transportation analytics specialists, shows the M1 and M25 will likely witness some of the longest jams of up to 90 minutes and 60 minutes respectively, with some further significant queues also forecast towards the end of this week and into the weekend on the M40, M5 and M6.

Any vehicle breakdowns or collisions that happen will only add to the time drivers have to spend getting to their destinations.




With so many families eager to make a break for it from this weekend, and with vehicle breakdowns expected to soar, the RAC and INRIX are backing Highways England’s campaign that calls on every driver to check their vehicle before they set out – doing so can radically cut the chances of them getting stuck at the side of the road.

RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: "The last thing any family wants is a breakdown spoiling the start of their summer holiday they’ve no doubt been looking forward to for a long time.

"Traffic jams are pretty much guaranteed from the end of this weekend and while it’s possible to predict where some of these will be, every summer we see extra delays caused by broken-down vehicles blocking lanes, leaving drivers faced with hours of frustration.

"We therefore urge holidaymakers to heed the advice and spend just a few minutes checking the basics like oil, coolant and tyre tread and pressure on their cars before they get packed up.

"Doing this could make the difference between a smooth and trouble-free journey, and one plagued by the stress and wasted time that comes from being broken-down at the roadside."

Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, said: "With record-level travellers hitting the road for the start of summer, drivers must be prepared for delays on popular routes.

"Although travel times are expected to increase throughout the weekend, Friday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road as commuters mix with holiday travellers."

Highways England’s Head of Road Safety Richard Leonard said:

"Breakdowns are still too common. We urge motorists to get behind the ‘check your vehicle day’ initiative this Friday (19 July) and while we remind motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis, this week is really important because schools are breaking up for summer and people are setting off for holidays and getaways.

"By doing the correct checks, motorists can make sure they reach their destinations safely and keep us all moving."

Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Mark Sidaway said:

“The weather becomes increasingly unsettled this week with showers gradually becoming more widespread. By Friday much of the country will see some wet and windy weather, which could make driving conditions difficult especially in the South West.

"While parts of the south and east will stay warm and dry. We are in for a weekend of sunshine and showers, with the heaviest and most frequent showers on Saturday, and Sunday turning drier for many. The changeable weather looks set to continue into next week.”

Beat the queues: An at-a-glance guide to travel this weekend

Expected worst day for delays over this period is Friday 19 July.

DateTripsBusiest timeQuietest timeHotspots
Thurs 18th3.7m1.45pm - 6.45pmAfter 8pmM40 south J14 to J11, M5 south J4 to J8
Fri 19th5.3m11am - 6.45pmAfter 8pmM1 south J16 to J6, M25 anticlockwise J4 to J1
Sat 20th5m11am - 2pmBefore 9.30am, after 4.30pmM20 west J7 to J3, A30 west Pathfinder Village to Whiddon Down
Sun 213.1m1pm - 3pmBefore 11am, after 8pmM1 north J12 to J16, M25 anticlockwise J4 to J1
Mon 222.8m11.30am - 6pmAfter 7pmM6 north J5 to J10a, M25 anticlockwise J17 to J12

Don’t be a breakdown statistic: the RAC’s tips to keep us all moving

Drivers should remember their ‘FORCES’:

  • Fuel – Don’t risk running out of fuel – top up before you set out
  • Oil – check it’s at the right level to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic
  • Rubber – tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition to give your car a safe, sure grip on the road
  • Coolant – this does a vital job in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem so contact a good garage without delay
  • Electrics – your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems
  • Screenwash – helps keep your windscreen clear

The RAC has also put together a comprehensive guide on to how to avoid breakdowns experienced in warmer weather to help drivers. The RAC app, free to download for iOS and Android devices, also offers up-to-the-minute traffic information and smart route planning guidance.


* Getaway trips based on research of drivers’ travel plans conducted for the RAC by Ragdoll Research. Base: 1,600 drivers surveyed July 2019. Road-specific information courtesy INRIX

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