Updated: Aug 27
An estimated 18m leisure trips will be taken by car this weekend, 1.8million more than last year as drivers are set to make the most of what is the last bank holiday before Christmas in most of the UK, new research from RAC Breakdown suggests.
Despite the summery weather taking a leave of absence, the figures suggest traffic could be bumper-to-bumper on some popular routes as families and friends embark on long weekends, bank holiday daytrips, or drive home from their summer staycations.
The figures suggest a slight increase, up 1.8million, in trips compared to 2019, most likely as a result of more people returning from UK-based holidays this year.
Friday is expected to see the largest volume of cars on the road with an estimated 5.6million separate trips planned, followed by Saturday and bank holiday Monday itself. Sunday looks a little quieter with the equivalent of 3.7million leisure journeys by car expected.
Separate RAC research conducted at the start of August suggested a total of around 45million daytrips would be taken by drivers this month, with more than a quarter of drivers saying they planned on taking more daytrips than last year. The latest research suggests a large proportion of these trips might well be being taken this coming weekend.
RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “It’s been anything but a normal summer for so many reasons, but our research indicates that millions of us are still desperate to eke out the last of the summer and enjoy time away, whether that’s a day trip to see friends or family or a long weekend in a caravan or camping. In fact, it may even turn out to be busier on the roads than last year with many more people returning home this weekend after a staycation.
“Both official Government statistics and our own data from insurance customers show that weekend traffic is now back to pre-lockdown levels. The numbers of people breaking down are also around where we would expect them to be for late August. It’s clear therefore that despite the pandemic, the car has been a vital part of making sure many people have been able to enjoy the summer safely.
“Key to getting as much out of the bank holiday weekend as possible will be drivers arriving at their destinations when they plan to. While some queues on popular stretches of road, especially to tourist hotspots, will likely lead to some delays a breakdown has the potential to cause far more problems for people.
“Our teams will be working incredibly hard to rescue drivers who run into trouble, but in so many cases breakdowns can be avoided. A quick check of a car’s ‘vitals’ – tyre pressure and tread, oil and coolant levels – can make the difference between a smooth trip or one blighted by a breakdown. It’s also very important those towing caravans and trailers complete a range of checks, too.”
Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s Customer Service Director, said: “We do everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible and 97 per cent of the road network we manage will be free from roadworks over the bank holiday.
“Safety is our priority and we know from experience that breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period. Let’s all enjoy summer safely.”