The RAC and traffic experts INRIX have released a list of the predicted worst traffic hot spots as millions of motorists prepare to hit the road this weekend.
They estimate that up to 12.5 million leisure trips will be taken over the coming four days, shortly after the AA issued an amber traffic warning predicted problems on the roads.
The last bank holiday before Christmas coincides with the last week of the English school holidays and a number of major festivals and sporting events, leading to predictions of major disruption at key venues and on major routes.
The worst of the jams are expected to be around London on the M25, where INRIX predicts the stretch between Bromley and the Dartford Crossing will see some of the busiest conditions throughout the weekend. Clockwise traffic is also likely to be congested between junctions 7 and 16.
Beyond the M25, some of the busiest conditions will be in the south west of England, on the A303 in particular. The RAC’s research suggests some 3.6m leisure trips by car are planned to Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset alone between Friday and Monday, peaking on Friday with around two million individual journeys.
INRIX has also warned travellers to expect hold-ups on the M60, between J7 for the A56 (Altrincham) and J18 for the M62, and on the A720 around Edinburgh.
INRIX transportation analyst Bob Pishue said: “We expect to see an increase in travel times throughout the holiday weekend on major roads in the UK, with Thursday and Friday seeing the largest delays compared to normal.
“Drivers planning to get away are going to find themselves competing with commuters and holiday travellers for road space, so we recommend adjusting travel plans or pack their patience.”
According to the RAC’s research, Friday will be the busiest day of the weekend as commuter traffic is swelled by around 4.3m leisure trips. It expects the roads to be busiest between 2pm and 7pm and has urged drivers to avoid travelling at those times if at all possible. Saturday will see 2.3m extra journeys, while Sunday and Monday will see an estimated 1.3m extra car journeys. The RAC and INRIX have also warned that these numbers could rise dramatically if there is a further good spell of summery weather.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis urged drivers to ensure their cars are roadworthy to avoid ruining their own and other people’s bank holidays. He said: “Despite more people choosing to head abroad on holiday this summer compared to the last two years, the cost-of-living crisis has meant many people have again opted for a break in the UK – and that’s led to some busy conditions on the roads, and sadly a lot of breakdowns. In fact, we’ve seen no reduction in the numbers of people breaking down this summer compared to last.
“The last thing anyone who is trying to head away or come back from a break wants is a breakdown, yet so many of the jobs our patrols will go out to over the next few days can be avoided so long as a few quick checks are made. Making sure a car is ‘road ready’ can be as simple as ensuring tyres are free of damage, have plenty of tread and are inflated properly, and making sure oil, coolant and screenwash levels are all where they should be. If you’re aware of any existing problems with your car, get these checked out by an approved garage before setting out – a long drive is not the time to put your car to the test.”