Drivers are expected to take more than 13m separate summer getaway trips between this Friday and the end of the weekend, the highest number in five years and 4m more than in 2018, according to a study by the RAC and INRIX.*
RAC research suggests ‘Frantic Friday’ at the end of this week, the day many school terms end, will see some 5.3m separate getaways by car taking place which, when added to the normal daily traffic seen on a Friday, could mean it’s the worst day for congestion. But Saturday also looks busy with 5m leisure trips planned, followed by a further 3.4m on Sunday.
Data from INRIX, the transportation analytics specialists, shows the M1 and M25 will likely witness some of the longest jams of up to 90 minutes and 60 minutes respectively, with some further significant queues also forecast towards the end of this week and into the weekend on the M40, M5 and M6. Any vehicle breakdowns or collisions that happen will only add to the time drivers have to spend getting to their destinations.
With so many families eager to make a break for it from this weekend, and with vehicle breakdowns expected to soar, the RAC and INRIX are backing Highways England’s campaign that calls on every driver to check their vehicle before they set out – doing so can radically cut the chances of them getting stuck at the side of the road.
RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “The last thing any family wants is a breakdown spoiling the start of their summer holiday they’ve no doubt been looking forward to for a long time. Traffic jams are pretty much guaranteed from the end of this weekend and while it’s possible to predict where some of these will be, every summer we see extra delays caused by broken-down vehicles blocking lanes, leaving drivers faced with hours of frustration.
“We therefore urge holidaymakers to heed the advice and spend just a few minutes checking the basics like oil, coolant and tyre tread and pressure on their cars before they get packed up. Doing this could make the difference between a smooth and trouble-free journey, and one plagued by the stress and wasted time that comes from being broken-down at the roadside.”
“With record-level travellers hitting the road for the start of summer, drivers must be prepared for delays on popular routes,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to increase throughout the weekend, Friday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road as commuters mix with holiday travellers.”
Highways England’s Head of Road Safety Richard Leonard said: “Breakdowns are still too common. We urge motorists to get behind the ‘check your vehicle day’ initiative this Friday (19 July) and while we remind motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis, this week is really important because schools are breaking up for summer and people are setting off for holidays and getaways.
“By doing the correct checks, motorists can make sure they reach their destinations safely and keep us all moving.”
Beat the queues: An at-a-glance guide to travel this weekend
Expected worst day for delays over this period is Friday 19 July
|Date||Leisure trips by car||Major roads likely to be particularly busy between||Major roads likely to be less busy between||Expected longest delays on major roads (breakdowns or collisions can significantly increase journey times across the road network)|
|Thursday 18 July||3.7m||Between 1.45pm and 6.45pm||After 8pm||M40 south J14 to J11: 72-minute delay from 2.45pm with an average traffic speed of 13mphM5 south J4 to J8: 64-minute delay from 6.15pm with an average traffic speed of 16mph|
|‘Frantic Friday’ 19 July||5.3m||Between 11am and 6.45pm||After 8pm||M1 south J16 to J6: 89-minute delay from 7.45am with an average traffic speed of 20mphM25 anticlockwise J4 to J1: 54-minute delay from 2.45pm with an average traffic speed of 7mph|
|Saturday 20 July||5m||Between 11am and 2pm||Before 9.30am or after 4.30pm||M20 west J7 to J3: 19-minute delay from 9.30am with an average traffic speed 18mphA30 west Pathfinder Village to Whiddon Down: 15-minute delay from 2.45pm with an average traffic speed of 24mph|
|Sunday 21 July||3.1m||Between 1pm and 3pm||Before 11am or after 8pm||M1 north J12 to J16: 40-minute delay from 1.30pm with an average traffic speed of 24mphM25 anticlockwise J4 to J1: 35-minute delay from 7pm with an average traffic speed of 13mph|
|Monday 22 July||2.8m||Between 11.30am and 6pm||After 7pm||M6 north J5 to J10a: 37-minute delay from 12.30pm with an average traffic speed of 17mphM25 anticlockwise J17 to J12: 37-minute delay with an average traffic speed of 18mph|
|Data sources: RAC and INRIX|
Don’t be a breakdown statistic: the RAC’s tips to keep us all moving
Drivers should remember their ‘FORCES’:
- Fuel – Don’t risk running out of fuel – top up before you set out
- Oil – check it’s at the right level to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic
- Rubber – tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition to give your car a safe, sure grip on the road
- Coolant – this does a vital job 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 – your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems
- Screenwash – helps keep your windscreen clear
The RAC has also put together a comprehensive guide on to how to avoid breakdowns experienced in warmer weather to help drivers. The RAC app, free to download for iOS and Android devices, also offers up-to-the-minute traffic information and smart route planning guidance.