Half term to spark ‘autumn rush’ on the roads with drivers planning nearly 20m leisure trips

Half term to spark ‘autumn rush’ on the roads with drivers planning nearly 20m leisure trips
The arrival of the October half term in England and Wales will spark an ‘autumn rush’ on the roads with drivers taking an estimated 19.4m separate leisure trips between Friday and Sunday, according to research by RAC Breakdown.1

The survey of 1,400 drivers suggests that Saturday will be the most popular day on the roads with drivers planning an estimated 5.6m ‘getaway’ journeys, followed by Sunday (4.6m) and Friday (4.3m) with an additional 4.9m trips planned across one of the three days.

The data shows that Covid is not putting drivers off making leisure trips as much as it did earlier in the year.

Now just 6% of respondents list the pandemic as the reason for not going away this half term, compared to 10% who said this in relation to the August bank holiday weekend and 18% who did ahead of the May Day bank holiday.

Separate RAC research2 suggests that of those planning a trip this late October, most (72%) will be go no more than 200 miles from home, but around a fifth (22%) expect to go further than they typically would during this time of year.

When it comes to locations, Devon and Yorkshire are most popular (8% each), followed by Norfolk or Suffolk (7%), Dorset (6%), Blackpool and the Lancashire coast (6%) and Cornwall (5%). But nearly one-in-10 drivers (9%) who are planning a getaway haven’t yet decided where they’ll go.

With cooler and more unsettled weather expected across much of the UK, the RAC is reminding drivers to check their cars are ‘road ready’ before setting out to avoid an unnecessary breakdown. This includes checking oil, coolant and screenwash levels as well as tyre pressure and tread.

Drivers must also make sure they carry charged mobile phones so they can request help if they need it.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “Summer might be long gone but these figures suggest there might still be something of an ‘autumn rush’ on the roads in the coming days as millions of drivers look to get away for the half term holidays.

"That could well spark a jump in the number of breakdowns and, while many of these can’t be foreseen, a good number could be avoided if drivers spent just a little time looking over their cars before setting out.

“The key to a smooth journey is checking oil, coolant and screenwash levels are all where they should be, and making sure tyres are in good condition, have plenty of tread and are properly inflated.

"Not checking these things increases the risk of a breakdown significantly, which is the last thing drivers want as they head away for a well-earned rest.

“Our research also shows that despite a rise in Covid cases nationally, it’s clear the pandemic is becoming much less of a factor in whether people decide whether or not to get away for a leisure trip.

"Just six-in-100 drivers say they’re not travelling specifically because of the virus, compared to 10% before the August bank holiday and 18% at the start of May.

“It might also be the case that the rise in UK ‘staycations’ brought about by Covid has encouraged some drivers to venture further afield than they would normally at this time of year.”

The fastest way for RAC members to log a breakdown and get help is online at www.rac.co.uk/reportbreakdown.


Get ready for the road: tips for avoiding a breakdown

Always remember the word ‘FORCES’:

  • Fuel – Don’t risk running out of fuel (or charge), and always top up before you set out.
  • Oil – check it’s at the right level, and get your car booked in at a garage if you’re topping up more than usual
  • Rubber – tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition to give your car a safe, sure grip on the road especially in wetter conditions. The legal tread depth is 1.6mm, so change them well before they reach this point
  • Coolant – 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 – if your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. Plus, you’ll be using your lights more in the shorter days and when the weather is bad
  • Screenwash – vital for keep your windscreen clear of dirt
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1. Research conducted among 1,400 UK drivers between 16 and 19 October 2021. % of drivers planning leisure trips by car extrapolated to total trips based on there being 32.87m licensed cars according to the Department for Transport
2. Research conducted among 2,419 UK drivers as part of the RAC Driver Opinion Panel; weighted to be nationally representative. Of this group, 14% expected to take a trip over the October school holiday period in 2021