The easing of coronavirus restrictions and the arrival of school holidays will create a “perfect storm” for traffic in the UK this summer, the AA has said. The breakdown organisation is urging drivers to make sure their cars are fit for use before setting out, in a bid to prevent unnecessary disruption.

According to the AA’s survey, almost two-fifths of British drivers (38 percent) are planning a summer trip by road. A further third (34 percent) said they were undecided as to whether they would travel, but confirmed they would use the car if they make a journey.

The survey revealed the most popular UK holiday destinations were, perhaps unsurprisingly, Cornwall and Devon, with drivers travelling an average of 264 and 178 miles to holiday in each county respectively. Yorkshire was the third most popular destination, with Norfolk and Dorset rounding out the top five.

traffic on the M4 motorway near Cardiff

After the most recent getaway – the May bank holiday weekend – saw 44 percent of AA members take a trip in a car, the AA says even more drivers are likely to set out now lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Those figures are backed up by increased interest in the AA’s travel-related spin-off brands. The website has seen a 26 percent increase in visitors, while AA Hotels saw interest rise by 67 percent in just seven days.

However, the AA also says just a fifth (20 percent) of drivers checked their cars over during the May bank holiday, and it warns drivers should make sure their cars are ready for the journey to avoid breakdowns.

Couple after a car breakdown at the side of the road

The organisation says battery issues, tyre faults and keys locked in the car are some of the most common reasons for callouts, but it claims “simple checks” could be enough to avoid many breakdowns. While the survey showed 90 percent of drivers check the fuel level before setting out, just 72 percent check their tyre pressures before a long journey.

Similarly, only 55 percent of motorists check the engine oil level, while just half (50 percent) check the condition of their tyres. A mere third (35 percent) said they would check the coolant or antifreeze levels.

“Lots of people will be keen to get out and about to rediscover that feeling of freedom over summer,” said AA patrol of the year, Ben Sheridan. “But with many vehicles having seen less use in recent months, it’s important to make sure the car is up to the job before you hit the road.

“We tend to see an increase in breakdowns as the weather gets hotter. Warm and sunny spells tempt more people to travel further afield on day trips and last minute getaways. Meanwhile hotter temperatures can also exacerbate existing problems, putting extra strain on cooling systems and tyres – particularly if it’s the first long journey for some time.

“It’s well worth spending a few minutes on essential checks before your summer road trip. Pay particular attention to the tyres, checking the condition, tread depth and pressures, and check your fluid levels too – engine oil and washer fluid. If you’re not sure, consult your handbook or consider taking your car to your local garage for a summer check.”

Mechanic working under car bonnet with clipboard in garage