Traffic experts have warned that this weekend could see record delays on the roads as drivers make more than 16.5 million leisure trips across the August bank holiday.
The number of planned trips is lower than this May bank holiday but observers are predicting a spike in last-minute breaks as families look to make the most of the forecast improvement in weather.
And experts from traffic analysts Inrix have warned that could lead to record-level hold-ups on some routes.
Ahead of the start of the getaway the RAC and Inrix have highlighted a number of key routes expected to experience increased traffic and potentially long delays across the whole weekend.
The M1, M6, M25 and A303 are among the roads identified as being most likely to suffer congestion, and the RAC has warned that any breakdowns or collisions could add further significant hold-ups.
Friday and Saturday are expected to see the most additional journeys, totalling around 9.4m, with the extra traffic causing delays of up to an hour on some routes.
Worst routes for delays this August bank holiday
Friday: M25 anticlockwise J4 Bromley to J1 Swanscombe/Dartford: 55-minute delay around 3.15pm. M6 north J18 Northwich/Chester to J24 St Helens: 54-minute delay around 2pm
Saturday: M6 north J22 Newton/Leigh to J26 Liverpool: 21-minute delay around 3.45pm
Sunday: M25 clockwise J7 Gatwick Airport to J16 (for M40): 26-minute delay around 1.30pm. A303 West Amesbury to A36: 22-minute delay around 5pm
Monday: M6 south J27 Wigan to J13 Stafford south: 61-minute delay around 2.15pm. M25 anticlockwise J10 London/Guildford to J6 East Grinstead: 18-minute delay around 2.45pm
RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “For many people, this coming weekend is the last chance to enjoy a long weekend this side of Christmas – and with the weather improving that’s likely to mean a lot of cars on the road heading to popular tourist destinations.
“A lot of the breakdowns we expect to see this weekend are preventable, so it’s vital drivers check over their car before setting out. Tyres with plenty of tread and properly inflated are far less likely to cause drivers problems, and it’s crucial that oil and coolant are at the right levels too. All are quick, easy things to check and can save drivers the hassle of a breakdown at the roadside.”
Best/worst times to travel
Day Worst time to travel Best time to travel
Friday 11am-6.30pm After 9pm
Saturday 10.30am-2pm After 4pm
Sunday 12.30pm-2pm Before 10.30am, after 6.30pm
Monday 12pm-2.30pm Before 11am, after 6pm
For tips on how to prepare your car to prevent a breakdown read our guide.
Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at Inrix, added: “Bank holidays have historically been one of the busiest times for road trips, and this year drivers could even see record-level travel delays.
“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer service director, said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible and that’s why we’re keeping 97 per cent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks.
“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”
Top tips for avoiding – or just coping – with the jams
Think carefully about when to travel
Most bank holiday traffic queues are caused by too many cars on the same roads at the same time. If you can travel outside the peak times – think early in the morning or later in the evening – you can easily miss them.
Make sure your vehicle is properly prepared
Many breakdowns are avoidable – punctures for instance can be caused by a tyre that is in poor condition or not inflated properly. Check oil and coolant levels as if these run low you could be in for an unwelcome breakdown and a big repair bill.
Keep you and your passengers happy…
Hungry, thirsty or tired passengers are recipes for in-car irritability – and ‘carguments’ – so pack enough food and water to keep your passengers happy, and plan in enough breaks along the way.
… including your dogs if you are travelling with them
Only use a safe and well-secured pet carrier, and make sure they aren’t hungry when you set off – it’s best to give them a light meal a few hours before leaving. And of course make sure you give your dog exercise if you are going on a long journey – they need to stretch their legs just as much as you do.