The October half term is expected to cause a huge increase in traffic, with almost 20 million extra road journeys on the cards. That’s according to new research from breakdown company the RAC, which is warning drivers of an “autumn rush” over the weekend of October 24-25.

An RAC study of 1,400 drivers found an estimated 19.4 million separate leisure trips will be made on UK roads between Friday, October 23, and Sunday, October 25. Saturday is set to be the busiest day, with an estimated 5.6 million leisure trips, followed by Sunday, when 4.3 million “getaway” journeys are expected. Some 4.3 million trips are planned on Friday, while another 4.9 million are planned for some time over the weekend.

The data also shows drivers have far fewer concerns about the coronavirus pandemic than they did earlier in the year. Just six percent of respondents said they pandemic was a reason for not going away this half term, while that figure stood at 10 percent over the August bank holiday weekend. Ahead of the May Day bank holiday, 18 percent said they would not travel because of Covid-19.

Evening traffic on busiest British motorway M25

“Summer might be long gone but these figures suggest there might still be something of an ‘autumn rush’ on the roads in the coming days as millions of drivers look to get away for the half term holidays,” said RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis. “That could well spark a jump in the number of breakdowns and, while many of these can’t be foreseen, a good number could be avoided if drivers spent just a little time looking over their cars before setting out.

“The key to a smooth journey is checking oil, coolant and screenwash levels are all where they should be, and making sure tyres are in good condition, have plenty of tread and are properly inflated. Not checking these things increases the risk of a breakdown significantly, which is the last thing drivers want as they head away for a well-earned rest.

Traffic on the M4 motorway near junction 28 Newport & Cardiff

“Our research also shows that despite a rise in Covid cases nationally, it’s clear the pandemic is becoming much less of a factor in whether people decide whether or not to get away for a leisure trip. Just six in 100 drivers say they’re not travelling specifically because of the virus, compared to 10 percent before the August bank holiday and 18 percent at the start of May.

“It might also be the case that the rise in UK ‘staycations’ brought about by Covid has encouraged some drivers to venture further afield than they would normally at this time of year.”