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Second wave of Easter getaway traffic to arrive as 27m hit the road

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.

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