The RAC has warned of traffic jams this weekend as the ongoing heatwave coincides with the beginning of summer holidays. According to the motoring organisation and data firm Inrix, the summer getaway rush will be the busiest we’ve seen since the RAC began recording data in 2014.

Using a survey of 1,700 UK drivers, the RAC and Inrix have estimated that 18.82 million leisure trips will be undertaken between Friday, July 22, and Monday, July 25. And that figure does not include the usual commuter and business traffic that would be on the roads anyway.

The RAC says leisure traffic volumes are set to peak on Saturday, July 23, as 4.62 million separate road trips are planned. However both Friday and Sunday are also expected to be busy, with an estimated 4.29 million trips planned for both days. An estimated 5.61 million further journeys are expected over the weekend, but the drivers undertaking those journeys are not yet sure when they will get away.


As a result, the RAC and Inrix are urging drivers to plan their journeys carefully, setting off either very early or later in the evening to avoid the worst of the queues. Inrix data suggests the worst traffic could be seen on the M25 around London, with the A303, the M4 between Cardiff and Newport, and the M5 south of Bristol also expected to become clogged.

The two organisations are also urging drivers to check their vehicles before setting off, warning that avoidable breakdowns will only cause further delays. Separate RAC research, which surveyed just 500 motorists, found just a fifth (17 percent) regularly check their vehicles before long journeys, but the motoring organisation says checking oil, coolant and screenwash levels can “significantly cut the chances of a breakdown occurring”.

“The extreme heat that’s affecting much of the UK in the last few days might wane over the next few days,” said RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis, “but we still expect the summer getaway to begin with a bang as a potentially record-breaking number of drivers take to the roads this coming weekend – and that’s despite the unbelievably high cost of fuel.

“With school terms in England and Wales finishing this week and millions of people ready for a well-earned break, we anticipate a ‘frantic Friday’ followed by a woeful weekend on major roads across the country, with traffic and congestion likely peaking on Saturday. The advice to drivers heading off on a holiday by car is therefore clear – leave as early as you can in the morning or expect to be sat in some lengthy queues.

“With this summer set to be one of the most expensive for years – thanks to the record-high price of fuel and the wider cost-of-living crisis – the very last thing drivers want is to break down and at best have to wait to be fixed at the roadside or, at worst, face an unexpected large garage repair bill.”

Woman worried calling for car breakdown help