More than 27 million cars are expected on Britain’s road this Easter holiday, with motorists warned that some journeys could take three times longer than usual due to congestion.
Data from the RAC and traffic data analysts Inrix estimates that Good Friday alone will see 4.4m car journeys undertaken, with lengthy queues and delays along several popular routes.
The data warns that major roads will be busy with traffic from 11am to 4.30pm, with delays of nearly an hour, before any accidents or breakdowns are taken into account.
The worst delays 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.
Worst and best times to travel on the roads this bank holiday
Day Worst time to travel Best time to travel Thursday 2.30pm-7pm Before 11am or after 9pm Friday 11am-4.30pm Before 9.30am or after 7pm Saturday 11am-2pm Before 9.30am or after 5pm Sunday 11am-12.30pm Before 10am or after 3.30pm Monday 12.30pm-2.30pm Before 10.30am or after 6.30pm
For drivers hoping to get avoid the Friday crush and get away on Thursday, they are advised to get on the road early – before 11am – or late – after 9pm – to avoid the worst. For the rest of the weekend an even earlier start is being advised.
Over the entire bank holiday weekend around 12m leisure journeys will be taken, with a further 15m in the days before Good Friday.
Worst routes for delays over Easter
Thursday – M25 clockwise J8 to J16: 57-minute delay from 1.45pm; M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11: 50-minute delay from 4.30pm
Friday – M62 west between J27 and J18: 56-minute delay from 12.45pm; M6 north between J31 and J34: 39-minute delay from 3.30pm
Saturday – A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 22-minute delay from 11.15am; M4 west between J22 and J29: 17-minute delay from 5.15pm
Sunday – M25 anticlockwise between J20 and J11: 17-minute delay from 12pm; A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 13-minute delay from 12pm
Monday – M25 clockwise between J8 and J16: 22-minute delay from 2pm; M25 anticlockwise between J4 and J30: 21-minute delay from 2.15pm
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.”
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.”
Rod Dennis said that while accidents contributed to hold-ups many drivers were suffering avoidable breakdowns because they failed to carry out basic checks before heading off.
He said: “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.”
Highways England said it had cleared more than 450 miles of cones ahead of the bank holiday and 99 per cent of motorways and major A roads will be traffic free for this weekend.
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 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.”