RAC predicts busiest late May Bank holiday since 2019 with 19m separate leisure car trips planned

Britain’s drivers are collectively planning an estimated 19.2m leisure car trips between this Friday and the end of bank holiday Monday, the highest number since before the coronavirus pandemic, a new study by the RAC and INRIX indicates.

Research of 2,138 drivers’ plans for the last nationwide bank holiday before the end of August suggests Saturday 27, Sunday 28 and Monday 29 May will be the busiest for leisure journeys by car with around 3.3 million made each day.

When it comes to traffic congestion, Friday may turn out to be busiest when a projected 3m getaway trips are made and those seeking to enjoy the long weekend share the roads with those trying to finish their working weeks. A further 6.3m trips are expected to be taken at some point over the four days.

Transport experts INRIX expect the M25 to be a hotspot for traffic jams over the weekend, with journeys on some stretches – including clockwise from J23 for Hatfield to J28 for Chelmsford and anticlockwise towards the Dartford crossing – taking up to three times longer than normal. Delays are also expected on the M5 in Somerset and M6 in Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the travel restrictions imposed during Covid now thankfully a distant memory, it’s clear drivers’ desire to getaway has been reignited with our figures for this coming weekend suggesting leisure traffic volumes will be close to what we last saw in 2019.

“With the Met Office currently predicting largely settled weather with above average temperatures, we’re expecting this to be a hectic period on major roads as people aim to make the most of the last long weekend before August – and that means it will be a busy time for our patrols too.

"What’s more, with so many households under the cosh financially, we’re concerned that a lack of essential maintenance might lead to more avoidable breakdowns than we’d normally see. So we’re reminding everyone to ensure their cars are as a ready for a getaway as they can be – if a vehicle hasn’t been serviced recently, this is the week to get one done by a qualified professional.

"In fact, with more RAC Mobile Mechanics, who can complete minor or major servicing at a driver’s home or workplace, are available across the country than ever before, making a far easier and quicker process than many people might think.

“And, whether a car’s been serviced lately or not, a quick look at oil and coolant levels, together with checking tyres are in good condition and inflated properly, can go a long way to avoiding an unwelcome stop at the side of the road this weekend.”

Expected trips and traffic hotspots over the late May bank holiday weekend

DateLeisure trips by carWorst times to travel on major roadsSuggested best times to travel on major roadsRoads to watch for delays
Friday 26 May 20232,983,92311am to 2pmBefore 11am and after 2pmM5 north J25 Taunton to J15 Bristol
Sat 27 May 20233,315,4703pm to 7pmAfter 7pmM25 anticlockwise J4 towards Dartford Crossing
Sun 28 May 20233,315,4702pm to 7pmAfter 7pmM25 clockwise J23 for Hatfield to J28 for Chelmsford; anticlockwise J4 towards Dartford Crossing; M6 north J18 Chester to J24 Liverpool
Mon 29 May 20233,315,4703pm to 7pmAfter 7pm M25 anticlockwise J4 towards Dartford Crossing

Source: Peak traffic and specific road data courtesy INRIX; estimated leisure trips data courtesy RAC 

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