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GETAWAY DAY: Record-breaking Bank Holiday traffic expected as over 14 million drivers hit the roads

This year's August Bank Holiday weekend is set to witness a significant surge in leisure trips, with more than 14 million drivers embarking on journeys, according to data from the RAC. This figure represents an increase of nearly 2 million compared to the previous year.

The anticipated busiest day for travel, dubbed the "getaway" day, is Saturday. The RAC's research, which surveyed 2,316 UK drivers, reveals that approximately 3.1 million separate trips are scheduled for this day.

Following closely is Friday with 2.8 million trips planned, while Sunday and the bank holiday Monday are estimated to see 2.3 million and 1.9 million trips, respectively. In addition to these figures, another 4.2 million trips are expected to take place over the three-day weekend by drivers who have yet to decide on their travel days.

While the overall number of bank holiday trips is 1.8 million higher than last year, when fuel prices reached an all-time high, it is worth noting that the figures are still lower than previous years when petrol and diesel prices were considerably cheaper.

The most popular destinations for this bank holiday weekend are anticipated to be Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, followed by the West Country (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset), with Wales and Scotland jointly securing the third spot.

Transport experts at INRIX have issued a warning about longer-than-usual journey times on certain key routes. On Friday around 1 pm, delays of up to 55 minutes can be expected on the M1 Northbound between Junctions 12 and 16. The M25 anticlockwise journey from Junction 4 to Junction 1 may encounter a 34-minute delay, while on the M4 Eastbound, delays of approximately 24 minutes are projected between Junctions 29 and 24.

On Saturday, the peak delay is expected to be 37 minutes on the M5 Southbound between Junctions 15 and 23 around midday, as drivers flock to the South West. On Sunday, delays of around 34 minutes can be expected for those traveling on the M1 Southbound between Junctions 16 and 6 around 4:30pm. Finally, on bank holiday Monday around 2pm, drivers on the M5 Northbound between Junctions 25 and 15 should anticipate journeys taking 30 minutes longer than usual.

To avoid traffic congestion, INRIX advises drivers to avoid major roads between 10am and 7pm on Friday, between 10am and 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday, and between 10am and 4pm on Monday. The optimal travel times on Friday, Sunday, and Monday are before 10am, while on Saturday it is recommended to travel after 3pm.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Simon Williams said: “With fuel prices much lower than last summer’s record highs, it’s clear from our research that many more drivers are planning to make the most of what the UK has to offer over the last bank holiday of the summer. And if the weather is kind, even more people may decide to take trips swelling numbers on the road further still and possibly adding to the inevitable delays.

“Those looking to have uninterrupted journeys should aim to travel very early to beat the jams, or if that’s not possible, much later in the day if they’re planning to be travelling on Friday.

“With breakdown numbers already well exceeding previous years, we’re urging drivers to do all they can to avoid finding themselves broken-down at the side of the road by carrying out a few essential vehicle checks before setting off.

“Simply making sure there’s enough oil and coolant can prevent some very expensive and inconvenient breakdowns. Checking tyres have plenty of tread and are inflated to the right pressures is also vital. Worn tyres are not only dangerous due reduced grip on the road, they are also more susceptible to punctures and blowouts, and under inflated tyres ruin fuel economy and lead to greater wear.

“Those who can’t find the time to carry out these straightforward checks risk having their weekends spoilt which is a great shame, particularly as this is the last long weekend before Christmas.

“And despite what some might think, there still could be time to get a vehicle serviced or repaired, particularly if booked with one of the RAC’s Mobile Mechanics who carry out work at customers’ homes or workplaces. There are still some next-day appointments available in parts of the country, which means drivers can get the peace of mind that comes from having their vehicle professionally serviced before hitting the road.”

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, added: “We expect this bank holiday weekend to be very busy on major roads, with Friday and Saturday seeing the longest delays compared to normal. While the most significant delays over the three days are going to be on the M25 and M1, routes to the West will inevitably be badly affected too.”

Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon said: "At this stage, the weekend is looking like being a mixture of sunshine and showers. On Friday these are likely to be more frequent and heavier in the northern half of the UK, but the south won't be immune to them either. While it’s looking like an unsettled picture, the finer details will be determined nearer the time. It's important to stay up to date with the latest forecast ahead of any weekend travel.”


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