Busiest first weekend of summer school holidays on the roads predicted

Close to 19 million separate leisure trips are expected.

Traffic in Watford
Traffic in Watford

An estimated 18.82 million separate leisure trips are expected to take place between Friday and Monday as schools in England and Wales break up for summer.

It’s set to be the highest number recorded for the three days since the RAC began tracking summer traffic numbers in 2014.

Volumes are expected to hit a peak on Saturday (July 23) with 4.6 million separate trips, though both Friday and Sunday are predicted to come close with 4.29m journeys each day. In addition, an estimated 5.61m journeys by car will take place between Friday and the end of Sunday by motorists who aren’t sure about which day they’ll choose to get away.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The extreme heat that’s affecting much of the UK in the last few days might wane over the next few days, but we still expect the summer getaway to begin with a bang as a potentially record-breaking number of drivers take to the roads this coming weekend – and that’s despite the unbelievably high cost of fuel.”

The RAC and transport analytic specialists INRIX are recommending that drivers plan ahead and either travel very early in the morning or late into the evening to avoid the the queues, with data indicating that the M25 around London could see some of the worst congestion, particularly between Bromley and the Dartford Crossing as well as Maple Cross to the M3.

The A303 near Stonehenge, the M4 between Cardiff and Newport and the M5 south of Bristol are also highlighted as likely areas for bad queues.

The RAC’s data suggest that the UK could be on track for another ‘staycation summer’ following those caused by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. However, the RAC also believes the high fuel prices could dampen keenness to get out on the road, with the cost of filling a 55-litre family car with petrol now £30 more expensive this summer than last. It now stands at £104.50.

Dennis added: “It’s a fact that a huge proportion of the estimated 300,000 breakdowns our patrols will attend in the coming six weeks are avoidable if drivers make sure they look over their vehicles before any long drive. A breakdown is so much less likely if a vehicle’s oil and coolant levels, as well as tyre pressure and tread depth, have all been checked before setting out.”

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