Video: Easter getaway traffic, the best and worst times to travel

Video: Easter getaway traffic, the best and worst times to travel
Image: Simon Annable /
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. Read on to find out how to avoid lengthy delays.

Research of drivers’ travel plans* suggests that 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.

Weather and traffic forecast:

INRIX traffic data

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.”

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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.”

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 Thursday 17 April and Easter Monday, 22 April.

DateTripsWorst times to travelBest times to travelExpected longest delays
Thursday, 18 April3.4m2.30pm - 7pmBefore 11am or after 9pmM25 clockwise J8 to J16: 57-min delay from 1.45pm M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11: 50-min delay from 4.30pm
Good Friday, 19 April4.4m11am - 4.30pmBefore 9.30am or after 7pmM62 west between J27 and J18: 56-min delay from 12.45pm M6 north between J31 and J34: 39-min delay from 3.30pm
Saturday, 20 April2.8m11am - 2pmBefore 9.30am or after 5pmA303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 22-min delay from 11.15am M4 west between J22 and J29: 17-min delay from 5.15pm
Easter Sunday, 21 April2.8m11am - 12.30pmBefore 10am or after 3.30pmM25 anticlockwise between J20 and J11: 17-min delay from 12pm A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 13-min delay from 12pm
Easter Monday, 22 April2.2m12.30pm - 2.30pmBefore 10.30am or after 6.30pmM25 clockwise between J8 and J16: 22-min delay from 2pm M25 anticlockwise between J4 and J30: 21-min delay from 2.15pm
Data sources: RAC and INRIX

Visit the RAC Media Centre for more details on Easter traffic.

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.

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