Busiest May Day bank holiday since 2016 predicted - here are the best times to travel

Busiest May Day bank holiday since 2016 predicted - here are the best times to travel
Risk of drivers experiencing a ‘motoring mayday’ with arrival of colder nights.

Thirteen million leisure trips are expected to be taken by car this coming weekend, the busiest in three years, according to research of drivers’ plans conducted by the RAC.*

Friday is expected to be busiest with around 4.4m separate leisure journeys by car, 1.5m more than the same day last year, followed by Saturday (3.4m, up 900,000 on 2018) and the bank holiday itself (3.1m, up 1.2m on 2018).

Unlike during the last bank holiday just two weeks ago, the weather looks to be considerably cooler with frosts and even some wintry showers expected, meaning a driver risks starting the day with a breakdown before they’ve even set off if their battery is on the blink.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Despite it looking like the weather will take an usually cold turn for the start of May – certainly after the recent Easter heatwave – our figures suggest drivers are still keen to make the most of the long weekend, with significantly more saying they are planning a leisure trip by car this year than in recent years.

“However, there is a risk that drivers will suffer their own ‘motoring mayday’ if they are not careful, since the colder nights we’re about to experience could be enough to cause some older car batteries to finally give up the ghost – seriously disrupting plans for a getaway. Luckily, temperatures will rise during the day and it isn’t due to be a wash-out.

“The advice is again to try to use the roads when they are quieter, which primarily means avoiding Friday afternoon and evening if possible, and setting off earlier on Saturday, especially if travelling any great distance.”

Travel this weekend

DatePlanned leisure tripsBest times to travel
Friday 3 May4.4mBefore 4pm and after 7pm
Saturday 4 May3.4mBefore 10am and after 3pm
Sunday 5 May2.5mBefore 10am and after 3pm
Monday 6 May3.1mBefore 12pm and after 4pm

Read our comprehensive advice to drivers on how to reduce the chances of a vehicle breakdown.

Top tips for avoiding or coping with the jams

Top tips for avoiding or coping with the jams

  1. Think carefully about when to travel

    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 – early in the morning or later in the evening – you can easily miss them.

    Plan your route here.
  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.

    Read How to repair a flat tyre and how to change a tyre here.

  3. Keep you and your passengers happy

    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.

    Read our road trip survival guide.


* Figures based on a survey of 1,687 UK drivers’ travel plans for this weekend
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