British motorists are expected to make more than 21 million leisure trips this Easter Bank Holiday, according to new research from the RAC. The motoring organisation says the weekend could be the busiest Easter bank holiday since it first started tracking motorists’ plans in 2014.

Data gathered by the RAC and data firm Inrix suggests Good Friday – the first bank holiday since the beginning of the year – will likely be the busiest day of the long weekend, with drivers planning around 4.62 million leisure journeys by road. Bank Holiday Monday is set to be the second-busiest day of the holiday, with 3.96 million journeys, while 3.63 million journeys are predicted on both Saturday and Sunday.

The two organisations are expecting traffic throughout the weekend, not helped by some major issues with the railway network. Major engineering work is planned on the train line between London and Birmingham, which could push more people into cars. That includes those travelling from Manchester and Liverpool to watch the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday. Planned industrial action on train lines in Scotland and Northern England could also impact the roads.

traffic on the M4 motorway near Cardiff

According to Inrix, the worst traffic is expected on the northbound M6 between Liverpool and the Lake District, and on the southbound M6 towards Stoke-on-Trent. Similarly, the M25 between Surrey and the M40 exit is expected to be busy, as well as the A303 near Stonehenge.

“After two years of relatively quiet Easter bank holidays on the roads, our research suggests a return to traffic levels that are much more typical of this time of year, and it’s very possible this weekend could turn out to be one of the busiest for leisure journeys for many years,” said Rod Dennis, the RAC’s traffic spokesperson. “Add in the impact of disruption on the rail network and one of the biggest fixtures of the sporting calendar taking place this weekend and you have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads. Traffic volumes will likely be even higher if some warm spring sunshine makes an appearance.

“The key to avoiding the worst of any jams is planning. Put simply, the earlier you leave in the morning the more likely you are to miss the worst of the queues, especially if you are travelling a longer distance – although a fifth of drivers we polled said they were planning on driving shorter distances this Easter, specifically because of the extremely high cost of petrol and diesel at the moment.

“As well as leading to queues of traffic, vehicle breakdowns also have the potential to ruin the long weekend for drivers and anyone they’re travelling with, so we’re urging people to make sure they’re vehicles are ‘road-ready’ before setting out. This is even more important for anyone travelling longer distances than they have for several months. A breakdown is much less likely if a car’s oil and coolant levels, as well as tyre pressure and tread depth, have all been checked before setting out.”

Woman checking car tyre pressure