As schools in England and Wales break up for summer drivers are set to make an estimated 12.6m getaway trips by car this coming weekend, a figure that exceeds the average annual exodus before the pandemic, data from the RAC suggests.
Saturday is expected to see the largest volume of leisure travellers on the road, with the RAC’s research of 2,249 UK drivers indicating as many as 3.1m separate trips could be taken – around 600,000 more than the next busiest day, Sunday (2.5m trips).
Friday will see up to 2.3m leisure trips made by drivers, with around 1.6m planning to get away ahead of the rush on Thursday.
An estimated additional 4.8m journeys will be taken at some point between Friday and the end of Sunday.
While the overall trips are down compared to last year, the total anticipated number of getaway journeys over the whole weekend, including Friday, is above the pre-pandemic average which suggests many families are holidaying in the UK rather than venturing abroad.
And as drivers are likely to be covering longer distances the RAC is concerned this will lead to an inevitable increase in breakdowns, so is warning drivers not to set off without checking their vehicles are up to the job.
Transport experts INRIX are warning of longer-than-normal delays on some key routes, with extra jams of up to 45 minutes expected on Friday on the M5 heading south between J15 near Bristol and J23 for Bridgwater – one of the most important holiday routes in the country – and M25 anticlockwise between J10 for the A3 Kingston and J6 for the A22 East Grinstead.
On this day, end-of-the-week commuter traffic will mix with getaway traffic, which explains the expected congestion.
The M25 is also expected to be particularly busy on Thursday anticlockwise between J4 for Bromley and the Dartford Crossing (35 minute delays) and on Sunday clockwise between J23 for A1(M) Hatfield and J28 for A12 Chelmsford (25-minute delays).
INRIX advises drivers to avoid using major roads between late morning and early evening between Thursday and Sunday, with the best times to travel on these days generally being before 8am in the morning or after 7pm.
RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “There’s no doubting the UK remains an ever-popular holiday destination with millions of drivers expected to take to the roads at the end of this week as schools in England and Wales close for summer.
“With the West Country leading the pack when it comes to the most popular part of the country to visit, it means routes heading south and west are likely to encounter some of the longest queues.
“Anyone using the M5 southbound from Bristol should anticipate bumper-to-bumper traffic, with those travelling outside peak periods most likely to have a better journey.”
Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon said: “The weather outlook for the weekend is for an unsettled period of weather to continue, with the UK under the influence of low pressure.
“Friday will likely see sunshine and showers for many, with some longer periods of rain possible on Saturday, especially in western areas.”