More than 11 million drivers are expected to hit the road on leisure trips this week as school holidays coincide with the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. That’s according to the RAC and data firm Inrix, which conducted a survey of 1,000 drivers to find out what their travel plans would be.

Assuming the sample is representative of the public as a whole, the RAC expects 11.5 million leisure journeys between Wednesday, July 21, and Sunday, July 25. July 21 and 23 are expected to be the busiest days, with 2.6 million and 2.3 million leisure journeys respectively. As a result, Inrix expects a 29 percent increase in delays on Friday compared with typical July journey times.

Inrix’s data also suggests the M25 around London, the A303 in Wiltshire and the M1 in the East Midlands will be among the biggest traffic hotspots. Other areas where jams might build include parts of the M5 in Somerset and Devon, as well as the M4 west of Newport, South Wales.

traffic on the M4 motorway near Cardiff

“We seem to have all the elements of a perfect storm on the UK’s roads this summer – with millions of drivers having already planned their staycation trips, plus the very real prospect of huge numbers more booking last minute if their foreign travel plans end in tatters because of Covid travel restrictions,” said RAC Breakdown spokesperson Simon Williams.

“With the current heatwave, the scene is really set for an incredibly busy few weeks on the country’s roads, whether that’s on motorways or on smaller, minor routes that take people to popular tourist destinations by the coast or in the countryside. It’s never been more important to plan ahead to avoid the busiest times.”

Heavy traffic on the M1 motorway near Salford Bedfordshire England UK

However, the RAC and Highways England – the government-run organisation in charge of the country’s motorways and major A-roads – are also urging drivers to make sure their cars are ready for long journeys by completing a few simple checks. The two organisations want motorists to ensure their tyres are correctly inflated and in good condition, as well as ensuring oil and coolant levels are sufficient.

“You are more likely to experience a breakdown or a collision if your tyres are incorrectly inflated or in a poor condition,” said Highways England traffic officer Siobhan Wares. “It only takes a few minutes to check your tyre pressure before you go on your day trip or staycation this summer, and it could save you time and money in the long run. Help yourself and your family reach your destination safely by checking your vehicle before you go.”