Around 15 million leisure car journeys are expected to be taken in the run-up to Good Friday, with a further 12 million across the bank holiday weekend itself, new figures from the RAC show.
Research of drivers’ travel plans suggests that while tomorrow (Monday) will be particularly busy with some 4.7m individual getaway trips by car taking place, there is expected to be sustained levels of leisure traffic in the run-up to Good Friday, a day when there are around 4.4m journeys expected to be taken by road.
Traffic data from mobility analytics provider INRIX indicates that jams will peak on Good Friday, with major routes clogging up between 11am and 4.30pm. The worst delays on this day 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.
Fortunately for drivers, 99% of the motorways and major A-roads in England will be free of roadworks, with Highways England removing more than 450 miles of cones in time for the Easter bank holiday.
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.
“But there’s a lot drivers can do to reduce the likelihood their car will fail them, and in fact 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.”
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.”
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% 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.”
At-a-glance: Easter traffic
Estimated 11.9m leisure trips by car between Monday 15 and Wednesday 17 April
|Date||Leisure trips by car||Worst times to travel on major roads||Best times to travel on major roads||Expected longest delays on major roads (breakdowns or collisions can significantly increase journey times across the road network)|
|Thursday, 18 April||3.4m||Between 2.30pm and 7pm||Before 11am or after 9pm||M25 clockwise J8 to J16: 57-minute delay from 1.45pm M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11: 50-minute delay from 4.30pm|
|Good Friday, 19 April||4.4m||Between 11am and 4.30pm||Before 9.30am or after 7pm||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, 20 April||2.8m||Between 11am and 2pm||Before 9.30am or after 5pm||A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 22-minute delay from 11.15am M4 west between J22 and J29: 17-minute delay from 5.15pm|
|Easter Sunday, 21 April||2.8m||Between 11am and 12.30pm||Before 10am or after 3.30pm||M25 anticlockwise between J20 and J11: 17-minute delay from 12pm A303 west between Amesbury and Chicklade: 13-minute delay from 12pm|
|Easter Monday, 22 April||2.2m||Between 12.30pm and 2.30pm||Before 10.30am or after 6.30pm||M25 clockwise between J8 and J16: 22-minute delay from 2pm M25 anticlockwise between J4 and J30: 21-minute delay from 2.15pm|
Data sources: INRIX and RAC
In full: roads with the longest expected delays
|Date and region||Road||Peak congestion from||Travel time (mins)||Total delay (mins)|
|Thursday 18 April|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J8 to J16||1.45pm||91||57|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11||4.30pm||88||50|
|East Midlands||M1 north J21 to J26||2.45pm||81||49|
|West Midlands||M6 south J20 to J16||7.45am||64||39|
|South West||M5 south J16 to J19||4.15pm||27||17|
|Good Friday, 19 April|
|North West||M62 west J27 to J18||12.45pm||85||56|
|North West||M6 north J31 to J34||3.30pm||62||39|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||1.30pm||47||32|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J4 to J30||11.45am||44||30|
|South West||M5 south J16 to J19||11.45am||30||21|
|Saturday, 20 April|
|South West||A303 west Salisbury Road to A350||11.15am||51||22|
|Wales||M4 west J22 to J29||5.15pm||38||17|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||12pm||33||14|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J20 to J28||12.45pm||46||13|
|Easter Sunday, 21 April|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J20 to J11||12pm||42||17|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||11.30am||31||13|
|South West||A303 west Salisbury Road to A350||12pm||40||13|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J8 to J16||11.45am||45||11|
|Scotland||M8 east J29 to J15||11am||13||3|
|Easter Monday, 22 April|
|Greater London||M25 clockwise J8 to J16||2pm||54||22|
|Greater London||M25 anticlockwise J4 to J30||2.15pm||40||21|
|West Midlands||M6 south J20 to J16||6pm||43||20|
|South East||M3 north J14 to J7||2.15pm||30||11|
|North East||A64 north Fulford to Barton Hill||4.45pm||25||10|
Top tips for avoiding – or just coping – with the jams
|1||Think carefully about when you’re travelling||Most traffic queues are caused by too many cars on the same roads at the same time. If you can travel outside the peak times – think early in the morning or later in the evening – you can easily miss them.|
|2||Make sure your car, and anything you are towing, are up to the job…||Many breakdowns are avoidable – punctures for instance can be caused by a tyre that is in poor condition or not inflated properly. Check oil and coolant levels as if these run low you could be in for an unwelcome breakdown and a big repair bill.|
|3||…and make sure you and your passengers are as well||Hungry, thirsty or tired passengers are recipes for in-car irritability – and ‘carguments’. So when setting out, pack enough food and water to keep your passengers happy, and plan in enough breaks along the way.|