Motorists should brace for traffic amid the busiest May bank holiday weekend since 2016, the RAC has said. The breakdown organisation’s survey of 1,000 drivers found almost 15 million getaways are planned this weekend, as people take advantage of the long weekend and relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

With the public now allowed to travel further, stay in self-contained holiday accommodation and eat at restaurants with outdoor seating, the study estimated 14.8 million leisure journeys will be made by road this weekend, with Saturday expected to be the busiest day of the weekend.

Thanks to the change in lockdown restrictions just after Easter, the RAC says 62 percent more journeys are expected this weekend than during the bank holiday four weeks earlier. Some 2.6 million journeys are planned for Saturday, while 2.3 million are expected on Friday. The bank holiday Monday is expected to see around 2 million extra journeys.

Heavy traffic on UK motorway in England

According to the RAC, 6.2 million journeys are expected from drivers unsure of when they are going to travel, suggesting there will be some weather-dependent trips in the offing. The Met Office expects cooler and more changeable weather than we’ve seen over the past week or so.

RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said he thought the weather would have some impact on the number of journeys, but he still expected queues as millions hit the roads.

traffic on the M4 motorway near Cardiff

“After what was one of the quietest Easters on the roads in years our figures suggest the easing of Covid restrictions has made a dramatic difference with millions more drivers planning to hit the roads,” said Dennis. “It remains to be seen what effect the weather will have as meeting up in soggy parks and gardens may not prove quite so appealing. And if it’s too cold for a trip to the beach, then there could be a big uplift in visits to shops, cafes and restaurants with covered outdoor areas.

“Nonetheless, the prospect of queues on the roads – particularly leading to major shopping centres – looks far more likely this coming weekend, and we’d advise drivers to plan ahead and keep tuned to local traffic bulletins to find out if there’s any disruption. What’s more, given nearly a fifth of drivers we surveyed said they had yet to decide on which day over the long weekend they will be travelling, it might well be the case that the weather ends up playing a deciding role in which days end up being busiest. Any sunnier, warmer days could trigger many more people to jump into their cars.”