Drivers will make the most of the fine weather expected this final bank holiday weekend of the year with an estimated 16.7m leisure trips planned, a similar number to 2019, say RAC Breakdown.
The figures suggest today, Friday, could see the largest numbers of cars on the roads with 4.3m leisure journeys by car planned and, according to transport analytics experts INRIX, a 25% increase in delays compared to a typical day in August.
One of the bottlenecks will be the M4 at various points between the Prince of Wales bridge and Pont Abraham Services, particularly around Newport and Briton Ferry/ Skewen. The A48 at Carmarthen and traffic along the A55 North Wales trunk road is also likely to be extremely busy.
Saturday will see 3.3m trips, bank holiday Monday 3m, with Sunday being slightly less busy (2.6m trips). In addition, drivers are planning a further 3.6m trips at some point over the course of the four days – with the hope of good late summer weather perhaps encouraging even more people to jump into the car for a day trip or last-minute break.
Roads in the South-West of England are expected to bear the brunt of the traffic with an estimated 3.6m trips expected to and from the region between today and Monday.
INRIX data suggests that some of the longest queues in the country could be here with journey times on classic holiday routes like the M5 and A303 more than doubling at certain times over the weekend.
The RAC is warning those taking to the roads to expect queues and delays this weekend, but also urging drivers to do everything they can before setting out to avoid adding to the jams by breaking down.
Many of the breakdowns RAC patrols will attend in the coming days are avoidable if drivers check their cars are ‘road ready’ before setting out.
This includes checking tyre pressure and tread, checking oil and coolant levels and topping up where required. Drivers should also ensure their mobile phones are fully charged ahead of their journeys in case they are unlucky enough to break down.
Always remember the word ‘FORCES’:
Fuel– Don’t risk running out of fuel, top up before you set out. More people heading onto the roads in the good weather can lead to traffic jams, especially on routes to the beaches
Oil– check it’s at the right level, and get your car booked in at a garage if you’re topping up more than usual
Rubber– tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition to give your car a safe, sure grip on the road. The legal tread depth is 1.6mm, so change them well before they reach this point
Coolant– this does a vital job in the warmer weather, in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem so contact a good garage without delay
Electrics– if your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. Plus, you’ll need your lights on during any unexpected downpours
Screenwash– helps keep your windscreen clear of dirt and insects
RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said, “It’s been an incredibly busy summer on the UK’s roads with vast numbers of people on the move both for ‘staycation’ holidays and for day trips to the sea and countryside. Our figures suggest this is a trend that will continue, with bumper-to-bumper bank holiday traffic expected, especially on the most popular holiday routes.
“While this weekend will see many people returning from summer holidays in the UK, the fine and settled weather will also be seen as an opportunity by lots of people to jump in their cars for last-minute trips – after all, this is the last bank holiday weekend in England, Wales and Northern Ireland before Christmas.
“Our expert local patrols will be continuing to work incredibly hard to keep people moving, but we’re urging drivers to take a few steps to avoid breaking down in the first place, something that has the potential to spoil the bank holiday weekend and will only add to the inevitable traffic queues. Making a sure a car is ‘road ready’ isn’t difficult – ensuring tyres are properly inflated and have plenty of tread, and that oil, coolant and screenwash are all at the right levels, can ensure a smooth journey – if not a particularly fast one given the likely jams.”
Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, added, “Drivers hitting the road for one last getaway before the end of summer should expect long delays on key corridors. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid travelling in the afternoon – leave early in the day or be prepared for some travel times to double.”
National Highways customer service director, Melanie Clarke, said: “We’d encourage motorists travelling over the August Bank Holiday to make sure their vehicle is roadworthy before setting off. It’s always a good idea to spend some time checking the condition of the tyres, making sure you have enough fuel and topping up oil levels.”