Over 16.5m leisure journeys planned this bank holiday weekend - best and worst times to travel

Over 16.5m leisure journeys planned this bank holiday weekend - best and worst times to travel
Drivers are planning to make an estimated 16.5m leisure trips by car between Friday and next bank holiday Monday, new research conducted by the RAC and INRIX suggests.*

Jump to the best and worst time to travel.

Friday and Saturday are expected to be the busiest days, with a combined 9.4m trips on those two days, followed by bank holiday Monday itself with around 3.7m separate leisure journeys.

But the reality may be there are even more trips than this – given the weather looks set to improve in much of the UK after some decidedly Autumnal conditions, many more families might decide to take a last-minute day trip or short break to enjoy the long weekend.

Data from transportation analytics specialists INRIX indicates some of the worst major roads for delays will include the M25 anticlockwise (between J1 and J4) and the M6 north (between J18 and J24) on Friday, and the M6 south (between J27 and J13) on Monday, with delays of up to an hour on each of these stretches.

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RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “For many people, this coming weekend is the last chance to enjoy a long weekend this side of Christmas – and with the weather improving that’s likely to mean a lot of cars on the road heading to popular tourist destinations.

“A lot of the breakdowns we expect to see this weekend are preventable, so it’s vital drivers check over their car before setting out. Tyres with plenty of tread and properly inflated are far less likely to cause drivers problems, and it’s crucial that oil and coolant are at the right levels too. All are quick, easy things to check and can save drivers the hassle of a breakdown at the roadside.”

“Bank holidays have historically been one of the busiest times for road trips, and this year drivers could even see record-level travel delays,” says Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer service director, said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible and that’s why we’re keeping 97 per cent 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.”

Best and worst times to travel

DateTripsWorst time to travelBest time to travel
Friday 23rd5m11am to 6.30pmAfter 9pm
Saturday 24th4.4m10.30am to 2pmAfter 4pm
Sunday 25th3.4m12.30pm to 2pmBefore 10.30am, after 6.30pm
Monday 26th3.7m12pm and 2.30pmBefore 11am, after 6pm

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

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.

Read the full story on the RAC Media Centre.

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* 2019 figures based on a survey of 1,900 UK drivers’ travel plans for this weekend, and extrapolated to cover equivalent of 31.2m UK licensed cars

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