RAC bank holiday weekend travel update - here are the best and worst times to travel

RAC bank holiday weekend travel update - here are the best and worst times to travel
Some 22m leisure journeys by car are planned for this bank holiday weekend, more than 8m more than last year and the highest number since the RAC first started asking drivers in 2014, according to new figures.*

As the current run of bank holidays comes to an end, with many people enjoying four days off over the course of just six weeks, it looks as though people are as eager as ever to get out and enjoy the longer days.

And it is the major roads leading to popular bank holiday destinations that are likely to bear the brunt of the traffic, the RAC predicts.

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Getaways look set to peak on Saturday with an estimated 6.6m separate trips planned (up from 3.8m last year), followed by bank holiday Monday (5.6m, up from 2.9m) and this coming Friday (5.3m, up from 4.5m), a day when drivers look likely to experience some lengthy jams as regular weekday traffic combines with the expected leisure traffic.

It means that in total it is estimated there will be in the region of 22.5m leisure journeys taken by UK drivers between Friday and the end of the long weekend.

Manchester-based RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “Our research suggests a lot of drivers are planning on taking to the road over this weekend, with routes leading to the coasts, national parks and highlands like the Lake District likely to see significant volumes of traffic – and some extensive jams.

“No-one wants a breakdown to interrupt their enjoyment of the weekend, and it’s a fact that a little TLC of a vehicle can go a long way towards preventing one.

"At this time of year, when warmer weather coincides with traffic jams, it’s particularly important that every driver is confident their car can ‘keep its cool’ to avoid a breakdown.

"So we strongly recommend lifting the bonnet to check the coolant is at the right level, and if it’s not to either top up or visit a good local garage to get it checked out.

"We also continue to see drivers running into a lot of problems caused by under-inflated tyres, and those in poor condition.

"It’s crucial to check tyre tread and pressure before every long journey – it takes just minutes, and with many people likely to cover considerable distances this weekend it really can make the difference between being safe and being sorry.”

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Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Chris Bulmer said: “This upcoming Bank Holiday weekend will start off fine and warm with sunny spells in the south, but for northern parts of the UK it’ll be cooler, cloudier and breezy with some rain at times. 

“At the moment Saturday looks to be one of the better days of the weekend with the promise of sunshine for most, whereas Sunday will be cloudier with outbreaks of rain moving in from the west. 

"By Monday this rain and cloud should clear with a return to sunny spells and the odd shower in places, feeling cooler across the country in the fresh westerly breeze.”

Highways England has said it is removing more than 700 miles of roadworks ahead of the weekend, meaning around 97% of motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks.

Travel this weekend

Date  Planned leisure trips  Major roads busy between  
Friday 24th May  5.6m  4pm and 7pm  
Saturday 25th May  6.6m  10am and 3pm  
Sunday 26th May  5m  10am and 3pm  
Monday 27th May  5.3m  12pm and 4pm  
Total Friday to Monday  22.5m   

The RAC website has comprehensive advice to drivers on how to reduce the chances of a vehicle breakdown


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Top tips for avoiding - or just coping - with the james

  1. Think carefully about when to travel - Most bank holiday 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 vehicle is properly prepared - 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. Keep you and your passengers happy… - Hungry, thirsty or tired passengers are recipes for in-car irritability – and ‘carguments’ – so pack enough food and water to keep your passengers happy, and plan in enough breaks along the way.
  4. … including your dogs if you are travelling with them - Only use a safe and well-secured pet carrier, and make sure they aren’t hungry when you set off – it’s best to give them a light meal a few hours before leaving. And of course make sure you give your dog exercise if you are going on a long journey – they need to stretch their legs just as much as you do.


* 2019 figures based on a survey of 2,100 UK drivers’ travel plans for this weekend. 2018 figure: 14m journeys between Friday before up to bank holiday Monday inclusive; 2014 figure: 12.2m

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