Good Friday could quickly turn bad for drivers as more than 17 million leisure trips are expected on Britain’s roads this Easter weekend. That’s according to research conducted by the RAC and transport analytics experts Inrix, which predicted long delays in the south and west of the UK as holidaymakers hit the roads.

The figures, which are based on a survey of 2,400 motorists, predict 2.7 million leisure journeys will be made by car on Good Friday (April 7), with the same number also being made on Easter Sunday (April 9). Easter Saturday and Easter Monday are expected to see 2.3 million trips each, although a further seven million trips may be made at some point over the weekend if the weather is favourable.

The RAC also says planned engineering work on the railway network, including the closure of London Euston station, could force even more drivers on to the roads. However, National Highways, the organisation in charge of the country’s motorways and major A-roads, has said it will lift around 1,400 miles of roadworks from Thursday, April 6, to alleviate traffic over Easter.

Evening traffic jam on the M1 motorway in Watford UK

According to Inrix, roads in the south of England will be hit particularly hard, with the westbound A303 near Stonehenge, the southbound M5 between Bristol and Bridgwater and the M25 anticlockwise between Hertfordshire and Surrey all expected to see twice the normal amount of traffic. Inrix says average vehicle speeds on those stretches could be reduced to just 12mph at some points.

“With many people keen to make the most of the double bank holiday this Easter weekend,” said RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis, “we’re expecting the customary jams across parts of the road network to make this Good Friday a bad Friday for drivers, especially those who are planning on covering longer distances. Traffic volumes could be even higher if the sun chooses to make a welcome appearance.

Slow moving traffic in Bristol UK

“The south and west of the UK are the areas to watch as they’re home to some vital roads responsible for carrying vast numbers of people to the holiday destinations of the West Country – so our advice to anyone heading that way is to get on the road as early as possible on Good Friday, or travel on a different day entirely.

Meanwhile Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at Inrix, said: “We expect a large jump in holiday driving with most congestion occurring on major roads around urban areas and popular destinations. Nationwide, we anticipate travel times during the holiday weekend to increase about 25 percent compared to normal. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”