Heavy traffic is expected on major routes this weekend as drivers set out on the final bank holiday before Christmas. According to research by the RAC, an estimated 12.5 million leisure journeys will be made by car between Friday and the end of Monday, alongside the usual commuter and business traffic.

The motoring organisation surveyed 1,000 UK motorists, finding that Friday, August 26, is expected to be the busiest day of the weekend for road traffic. Not only will an estimated 4.3 million leisure journeys be made by car on that day, but they are expected to mingle with evening rush-hour traffic. As a result, the RAC and transport analytics firm Inrix expect the M25 and M60 motorways to experience the worst traffic jams.

Saturday, August 27, is expected to be quieter, with 2.3 million leisure journeys predicted, but the M60 and M25 are again expected to be the busiest roads. Around 1.3 million leisure journeys are expected on UK roads on Sunday, August 28, and Monday, August 29, with the M25 and the A303 proving the busiest.

Traffic on M6 motorway

However, the RAC admits that could all change as a further 3.3 million drivers are expected to hit the road at some point over the weekend – they just don’t know when. And the RAC says that figure could increase if the unsettled weather ends and some bright spots appear.

“Despite more people choosing to head abroad on holiday this summer compared to the last two years, the cost-of-living crisis has meant many people have again opted for a break in the UK – and that’s lead to some busy conditions on the roads, and sadly a lot of breakdowns,” said RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis.

“In fact, we’ve seen no reduction in the numbers of people breaking down this summer compared to last, which again suggests the UK’s roads are just as hectic this summer as they were a year ago.

“We’re expecting busy roads to continue throughout this bank holiday weekend, especially to major holiday destinations with people eager to enjoy some time away before the new school terms begin in England and Wales. The south east and south west of England look as though they may bear the brunt of the traffic, with the message to drivers travelling through these regions clear – head off early in the morning or be prepared to sit in traffic.”

Traffic jam on the British M1 motorway