Easter traffic levels are expected to hit a six-year low this year, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions during the week. Research by the RAC suggests just 5.6 million leisure journeys will be made by car during the Easter weekend – the lowest number since the RAC began tracking drivers’ travel plans in 2014.

The breakdown organisation’s survey of 1,200 motorists suggests drivers are still cautious about travelling, despite an easing of coronavirus restrictions on Monday, March 29. Although people will be allowed to gather outside in small groups from that date, 25 percent of respondents said they would not be travelling because of the restrictions.

Of those who will be travelling, Good Friday (April 2) is expected to be the busiest day of the holiday, with two million separate leisure journeys expected. Saturday, April 3, and Easter Sunday (April 4) are both expected to see 1.3 million journeys each.

Traffic jam

However, the RAC says there will be a “late Easter surge”, with a rise in trips when further restrictions are lifted on April 12. From that date, people will be allowed to visit self-catered holiday accommodation, as well as outdoor hospitality venues and outdoor attractions including zoos and theme parks.

Between Friday, April 9, and Sunday, April 11, the RAC’s research suggests drivers are planning 5.3 million separate leisure journeys. And April 12 itself is expected to see 2.3 million individual leisure journeys undertaken by road.

Traffic jam

“What is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for leisure trips in normal times could turn out to be anything but in 2021, with the pandemic continuing to have a big impact on drivers’ plans to see friends and family this Easter,” said RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis. “The fact that meetings among family members or friends must be outdoors is very clearly on drivers’ minds.

“Nonetheless, it’s unlikely the roads will be empty of traffic over Easter, and if the weather turns out to be good more people will inevitably jump in their cars for a trip at short notice, even if that’s just among members of the same household. And of course, just a single breakdown or collision on a major road could then lead to some jams.

“Looking forward, we’re expecting to see greater numbers of people on the roads the weekend after Easter. Drivers have clearly got their eyes on Monday 12 April which is the earliest date when lockdown restrictions could be eased further, and could be the day zoos, theme parks and other attractions reopen along with non-essential retail outlets and some self-catering holiday accommodation. If the day does get confirmed by the Government, and it coincides with fine weather, there’s every chance we could see a real ‘rush’ on the roads in some parts of the country.”