More than 14m trips planned by car as school holidays and Easter weekend clash

More than 14m trips planned by car as school holidays and Easter weekend clash
More than 14m leisure journeys are expected to be made by car this Easter weekend when the bank holiday collides with most UK schools breaking up, according to a new study of drivers’ getaway plans from the RAC and INRIX.*

Data indicates Good Friday could spell some of the worst delays for drivers as an estimated 2.6m getaway trips by car are due to be made on that day alone. This is 600,0000 more than the 2m journeys planned for both Thursday 28 March – the day many schools break up – and Easter Monday, and is up on volumes expected over Easter Saturday and Sunday with 2.3m separate trips each.

Meanwhile, an additional one-in-10 drivers (10%) are planning a trip over the long Easter weekend but are undecided exactly when they’ll hit the road, leading to an estimated 3.3m more trips staggered over these dates.

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On Thursday, transport analytics specialists INRIX predict traffic to be heaviest between 2pm and 7pm as getaway traffic combines with people making regular commuting trips. The busiest route is expected to be the M25 in both directions between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire from 4pm, with journeys on this stretch taking over two hours – more than double the usual time.

Meanwhile, on Good Friday, the lengthiest delays are expected between 11am and 3pm meaning drivers are advised to start their trips as early as possible in the morning or delay them until later the afternoon. Two popular routes for holidaymakers – the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton and M3 between the M25 and the south coast – are predicted to be affected by some of the longest jams, with journey times extending to one hour 48 minutes and two hours 18 minutes respectively – twice as long as usual.

For those spending the first full week of the Easter holidays away from home, the busiest route to return on will be the M5 northbound between Taunton and Bristol on Friday 5th April at 3pm, where it will take an estimated two and a half hours to travel.

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RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson said: “With Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays, it could be ‘carmageddon’ for holidaymakers. Anyone who can delay leaving on Thursday 28 March until much later in the evening or set off as early as possible on Good Friday is likely to have a better journey than those who travel during the peak periods of the day.

“On every journey there are key pinch points where you can save yourself lots of valuable time if you can get through before everyone else. This will be especially true over the whole Easter holidays as our research shows two-thirds (64%) of drivers will be making a leisure journey on major roads at some point.

“Lengthy queues can be expected along routes to the usual hotspots like the West Country, the Lake District and the south coast, especially during the middle of the day when most people make trips. While a good proportion of drivers aren’t yet tying themselves to a date, there may be even more cars on the road than anticipated if the sun decides to make an appearance.

“To have the best chance of a straightforward journey, we encourage motorists to check fuel, oil and coolant levels, along with tyre pressures and treads, before setting off. And if your car is due a service or there are any rogue warning lights you’ve been meaning to get checked, now’s the time to book an RAC Mobile Mechanic who can perform a complete service or run a diagnostic check at your home or work.

“Drivers looking to save money on their fuel for their Easter trips should download the myRAC app for free so they can find the cheapest petrol and diesel near them.”

Bob Pishue, INRIX transportation analyst, said: “Although travel times will peak on Thursday and Friday afternoons, drivers should be prepared for longer journeys than normal throughout the entire weekend. To avoid the longest delays, we advise adjusting departure times so you’re not travelling in peak commuter hours. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Andy Butterfield, Customer Services Director at National Highways said: “This is the first bank holiday of the year, so we expect the roads to be busy with people looking to make the most of a long weekend.

“We encourage people to plan ahead and prepare their cars in advance for long journeys as this can help reduce the risk of breakdowns.”

Impact on Eurotunnel and Port of Dover (PoD) this weekend

The Department for Transport (DfT) have encouraged travellers to make sure they are prepared for any potential delays, such as having access to snacks, water and any essential medication. 

Passengers should have all their documents open on ID pages when arriving at border controls. 

Coaches arriving at Port of Dover more than three hours before their departure time will not be permitted entry.

All coaches must use the designated Coach Processing Facility in Dover’s Western Docks on Thursday 28 (10.30pm to 01:30am on 30 March) and Saturday 30 (12.30 to 22.30).

RAC patrols share their best tips for an ‘eggscellent’ trip this Easter

“It’s best to get any known problems with your vehicle sorted before you make a journey, especially if it’s due a service or has any MOT advisories that need attention. Check out the RAC’s guidance on where to stand if you’re unfortunate enough to breakdown on a motorway, as these major routes will be some of the busiest during the Easter break.” – Glen Johnson, Blackpool and Preston

“Leave plenty of time for your journey if you’re using the M5 corridor to Devon and Cornwall as this is notoriously busy in the holidays. Check your coolant and oil levels, make sure your tyres are in good condition and remember to check the spare too. Services will be extra busy, so bring your packed lunch, and if you do breakdown, remember to reward your friendly RAC patrol with Easter eggs!” – Gary Hesketh, Exeter

“Make sure you pack appropriate clothing and footwear in case the worst happens and you do breakdown, including high-vis and waterproofs for all passengers and the driver.” – James Crook, Leicester

“Keep essential items in the car at all times in case you ever breakdown, including things you may not consider, like spare raincoats, extra baby milk if necessary and phone chargers. Before you set off, make sure you check your vehicle’s fluids, wipers and tyre pressures.” – Lewis Norman, Dumfries and Galloway

“Always prepare for the unexpected. I see a lot of instances where drivers leave their medication at home while waiting for a patrol, so carry any prescription medication with you if possible.” - Rob Whitfield, Leeds

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