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EASTER TRAVEL GRIDLOCK: Over 14 Million car journeys predicted

The RAC and INRIX have issued a warning to drivers planning their Easter getaways, forecasting more than 14 million leisure journeys by car over the Bank Holiday weekend. This surge in travel coincides with the majority of UK schools closing for the break, setting the stage for significant congestion on the roads.

Good Friday is set to see the peak of the travel turmoil, with an anticipated 2.6 million cars hitting the highways, notably higher than the 2 million journeys expected on both the preceding Thursday and the following Monday. The weekend itself will not offer much respite, with Saturday and Sunday each looking at around 2.3 million separate trips.

An added pressure comes from the undecided 10% of drivers, contributing to an additional estimated 3.3 million journeys spread unpredictably across the holiday period.

INRIX, a transport analytics firm, anticipates the worst congestion will occur between 2pm and 7pm on Thursday, as regular commuter traffic merges with holidaymakers. The M25 is predicted to be a hotspot for hold-ups, particularly between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire, where journey times could more than double.

Good Friday's travel is advised to be either early in the morning or delayed to later in the afternoon to avoid the expected heaviest delays between 11am and 3pm. Notably, the M5 southbound from Bristol to Taunton and the M3 towards the south coast are among the routes likely to see significant delays, with journey times potentially doubling.

For those returning from their Easter breaks, the M5 northbound from Taunton to Bristol on Friday, 5th April, is predicted to be particularly congested at around 3pm, with travel times expected to extend to two and a half hours.

Travellers are advised to plan their journeys carefully and consider alternative times or routes to avoid the worst of the traffic, ensuring a smoother start and end to their Easter holiday escapes.

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.”


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