May bank holiday traffic set to hit six-year high – here are the best times to travel to avoid delays

May bank holiday traffic set to hit six-year high – here are the best times to travel to avoid delays
May bank holiday traffic set to hit six-year high – here are the best times to travel to avoid delays

This weekend’s bank holiday is expected to be the busiest on the roads for six years, with Britons planning more than 22 million leisure journeys.

According to data from the RAC a record number of people are planning trips between Friday and Monday, leading to potentially long delays and problems on many of the most popular routes.

The 22m trips are some eight million more than the number taken last year and the highest since the RAC started asking drivers about their plans in 2014.

Routes to the coast and national parks are predicted to be among the worst affected.

Peak travel times

Every day is expected to see an increase in traffic compared with last year’s bank holiday weekend. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Every day is expected to see a rise in traffic compared with last year but getaways are expected to peak on Saturday, with an estimated 6.6m trip planned – almost 3m more than year.

Bank holiday Monday will be the second busiest day with 5.6m road trips compared with last year’s 2.9m.

Worst times for travel

Date Planned leisure trips       Busiest times
on major routes
Friday 24 May    5.6m      4pm and 7pm
Saturday 25 May    6.6m      10am and 3pm
Sunday 26 May    5m      10am and 3pm
Monday 27 May    5.3m      12pm and 4pm

According to the RAC data, a further 5.3m people will be taking to the roads on Friday in addition to regular commuter traffic – leading to a warning of potential lengthy jams around rush hour.

On Friday, the roads are predicted to be busiest between 4pm and 7pm, with holidaymakers urged to avoid travelling then if possible.

Extensive jams

Manchester-based RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “Our research suggests a lot of drivers are planning on taking to the road over this weekend, with routes leading to the coasts, national parks and highlands like the Lake District likely to see significant volumes of traffic – and some extensive jams.

Breakdowns

“No-one wants a breakdown to interrupt their enjoyment of the weekend, and it’s a fact that a little TLC of a vehicle can go a long way towards preventing one. At this time of year, when warmer weather coincides with traffic jams, it’s particularly important that every driver is confident their car can ‘keep its cool’ to avoid a breakdown. So we strongly recommend lifting the bonnet to check the coolant is at the right level, and if it’s not to either top up or visit a good local garage to get it checked out.

Many breakdowns can be avoided with a little maintenance in advance. (Picture: Shuttertstock)

“We also continue to see drivers running into a lot of problems caused by under-inflated tyres, and those in poor condition. It’s crucial to check tyre tread and pressure before every long journey – it takes just minutes, and with many people likely to cover considerable distances this weekend it really can make the difference between being safe and being sorry.”

Top tips for avoiding – or just coping – with the jams

Think carefully about when to travel
Most bank holiday 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.

Make sure your vehicle is properly prepared
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.

Keep you and your passengers happy…
Hungry, thirsty or tired passengers are recipes for in-car irritability – and ‘carguments’ – so pack enough food and water to keep your passengers happy, and plan in enough breaks along the way.

… including your dogs if you are travelling with them
Only use a safe and well-secured pet carrier, and make sure they aren’t hungry when you set off – it’s best to give them a light meal a few hours before leaving. And of course make sure you give your dog exercise if you are going on a long journey – they need to stretch their legs just as much as you do.

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