The forthcoming bank holiday weekend will see an estimated 10.8m leisure trips taken by car, new RAC research of drivers' plans suggests,* but if the sun shines there's likely to be even more trips which will inevitably cause jams.
While the figures indicate drivers have firm plans to take around 7.2m trips to see friends and family between Friday and bank holiday Monday – with Saturday and the bank holiday itself busiest at 2m separate journeys each day – an extra 3.6m are due to be taken at some point over the weekend by motorists who have not yet decided on which days they will be on the roads. This suggests the weather is set to play a pivotal role in deciding just how much traffic congestion there is.
The research also shows the effect the reduction in Covid cases is having on motorists' increasing confidence to drive longer distances to see friends and family. Only one-in-10 drivers (11%) aren't planning leisure trips next weekend due to the pandemic, compared to 18% over the early May bank holiday and 25% over Easter.
The RAC and Highways England are urging all drivers to make sure their cars – and anything they might be towing – are ready for the road this bank holiday by completing some easy pre-departure checks. Ensuring all tyres are in good condition and properly inflated, and that oil, coolant and screenwash are all at the right levels, can go a long way to ensuring a stress and trouble-free journey.
Drivers will be pleased to know that 98% of Highways England roads – motorways and major A-roads – will be free of roadworks over the bank holiday to provide extra capacity. A total of 899 carriageway miles of roadworks will be completed (775) or suspended (124) ahead of the holiday.
RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said:
"With Covid restrictions gradually lifting and some better weather on the horizon at last, we're anticipating large numbers of drivers to be venturing out and about over the bank holiday weekend. The fact only one-in-10 said they weren't planning a trip because of the virus, down from a quarter over Easter, shows people now have more confidence to drive to see friends and family safely.
"Our research points to Saturday and Monday being the busiest days, but in reality, there's a good chance the weather will have the final say as to how busy the roads get. A return to more typical late May temperatures and an end to the recent wind and rain could spark a sudden surge in journeys and mean some routes – especially those to the coasts and hills – start to clog up.
"Drivers can help my colleagues and I have a better bank holiday weekend by making sure their vehicles are in good working order, something that's particularly important for anyone driving longer distances. Taking a few minutes to check tyres and fluid levels before setting out could very easily make the difference between a plain-sailing journey and one beset by a breakdown."
Highways England traffic officer Dave Harford said:
"If you haven't driven for a while due to lockdown, you might feel a bit strange getting back behind the wheel. Checking your tyres, oil, screenwash, lights and fuel doesn't take long – but it will help keep you and your loved ones safe."
Highways England advises that drivers should plan ahead this weekend and aim to travel at quieter times if at all possible, which are likely to be the afternoon and evening of Friday 28 May, and mid-morning to mid-afternoon on the remaining days of the bank holiday.
Ready for the road? Tips to avoid a breakdown this bank holiday from Highways England and the RAC
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 heavy downpours
Screenwash – helps keep your windscreen clear of dirt and insects
*Article Source www.rac.co.uk