More than 14 million drivers are set to make leisure trips this bank holiday weekend – nearly two million more than last year, data from the RAC suggests.
Saturday is expected to be the busiest “getaway” day of the weekend on the roads, with the RAC’s research of 2,316 UK drivers showing as many as 3.1 million separate trips are due to be taken. Friday is forecast to be the next busiest with 2.8 million trips planned, followed by Sunday with 2.3 million, while the bank holiday Monday is predicted to see 1.9 million. On top of these estimates are another 4.2 million trips which will be made at some point over the course of the three-day weekend by drivers who have yet decide which day to travel on.
While the overall number of getaway trips due to be made over the August bank holiday weekend is 1.8 million more than last year when fuel prices were at an all-time high, they are not as high as previous years when petrol and diesel were much cheaper.
The most popular destinations for the bank holiday weekend are: Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, followed by the West Country (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset), then Wales and Scotland jointly.
Transport expert INRIX is warning of longer-than-normal journeys on some key routes on Friday around 1pm with delays of 55 minutes on M1 North J12 to J16, 34 minutes on M25 anticlockwise J4 to J1, and 24 minutes on M4 East J29 to J24. On Saturday the worst delay will be 37 minutes on M5 South J15 to J23 around midday as drivers flood to the South West and on Sunday it will be 34 minutes on M1 South J16 to J6 for those travelling around 4.30pm. On bank holiday Monday around 2pm drivers on M5 North J25 to J15 can expect their journeys to take 30 minutes longer.
INRIX advises drivers to avoid using major roads between 10am and 7pm on Friday, between 10am and 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday, and between 10am and 4pm on Monday. The best time to travel on Friday, Sunday and Monday is before 10am whereas on Saturday it is after 3pm.
RAC breakdown spokesperson Simon Williams said: “With fuel prices much lower than last summer’s record highs, it’s clear from our research that many more drivers are planning to make the most of what the UK has to offer over the last bank holiday of the summer. And if the weather is kind, even more
people may decide to take trips swelling numbers on the road further still and possibly adding to the inevitable delays.
“Those looking to have uninterrupted journeys should aim to travel very early to beat the jams, or if that’s not possible, much later in the day if they’re planning to be travelling on Friday.
“With breakdown numbers already well exceeding previous years, we’re urging drivers to do all they can to avoid finding themselves broken-down at the side of the road by carrying out a few essential vehicle checks before setting off.
“Simply making sure there’s enough oil and coolant can prevent some very expensive and inconvenient breakdowns. Checking tyres have plenty of tread and are inflated to the right pressures is also vital. Worn tyres are not only dangerous due reduced grip on the road, they are also more susceptible to punctures and blowouts, and under-inflated tyres ruin fuel economy and lead to greater wear.
“Those who can’t find the time to carry out these straightforward checks risk having their weekends spoilt which is a great shame, particularly as this is the last long weekend before Christmas.
“And despite what some might think, there still could be time to get a vehicle serviced or repaired, particularly if booked with one of the RAC’s Mobile Mechanics who carry out work at customers’ homes or workplaces. There are still some next-day appointments available in parts of the country, which means drivers can get the peace of mind that comes from having their vehicle professionally serviced before hitting the road.”
Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, added: “We expect this bank holiday weekend to be very busy on major roads, with Friday and Saturday seeing the longest delays compared to normal. While the most significant delays over the three days are going to be on the M25 and M1, routes to the West will inevitably be badly affected too.”
Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said: “At this stage, the weekend is looking like being a mixture of sunshine and showers. On Friday these are likely to be more frequent and heavier in the northern half of the UK, but the south won’t be immune to them either. While it’s looking like an unsettled picture, the finer details will be determined nearer the time. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest forecast ahead of any weekend travel.”