As the long Easter weekend approaches, a new study conducted by the RAC and INRIX reveals that more than 14 million leisure journeys are expected to be made by car across the United Kingdom. With the convergence of the bank holiday and the majority of schools breaking up, traffic is anticipated to reach peak levels, causing potential disruptions for motorists.

Busiest days and hours

According to the data, Good Friday is projected to witness some of the most significant delays, with an estimated 2.6 million getaway trips by car scheduled for that day alone. This figure surpasses the 2 million journeys planned for both Thursday, the day when many schools begin their break, and Easter Monday. Additionally, Easter Saturday and Sunday are expected to see around 2.3 million separate trips each.

The busiest hours are forecasted to be between 11 am and 3 pm on Good Friday. Motorists are advised to commence their journeys early in the morning or postpone them until later in the afternoon to avoid prolonged delays. Notably, two popular routes for holidaymakers – the southbound M5 between Bristol and Taunton and the M3 between the M25 and the south coast – are anticipated to experience extensive traffic jams. Journey times on these routes could extend up to one hour and 48 minutes and two hours and 18 minutes, respectively – double the usual duration.

Best and worst times to drive over Easter bank holiday 2024, UK

Undecided travel plans

Adding to the potential congestion, approximately one in ten drivers (10 per cent) are contemplating a trip over the long Easter weekend but have yet to finalise their travel plans. This uncertainty is expected to result in an additional 3.3 million trips spread out over the holiday dates, contributing further to the overall traffic volume.

With the influx of holidaymakers hitting the roads, authorities are urging motorists to plan their journeys meticulously, consider alternative routes where possible, and remain patient in anticipation of potential delays.

Peak congested roads, Easter 2024, UK

“With Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays, it could be ‘carmageddon’ for holidaymakers,” a RAC spokesperson commented. “Anyone who can delay leaving on Thursday 28 March until much later in the evening or set off as early as possible on Good Friday is likely to have a better journey than those who travel during the peak periods of the day. On every journey, there are key pinch points where you can save yourself lots of valuable time if you can get through before everyone else. This will be especially true over the whole Easter holidays as our research shows two-thirds (64 per cent) of drivers will be making a leisure journey on major roads at some point.”

It’s not only bad news, though. National Highways says that about 98 per cent of England’s motorway and major A road network will be free from roadworks over the holiday period. Roadworks will be removed by 6 am on Thursday 28 March and won't be put back until Tuesday 2 April.

Planning makes a difference

Meanwhile, GEM Motoring Assist emphasises the importance of thorough preparation to ensure safe and hassle-free journeys during the Easter holiday. Here are some tips from the organization:

1. Before embarking on any long road journey, it's essential to check your vehicle thoroughly. Ensure that your car is in good condition, and if any warning lights appear on the dashboard, promptly address them by getting the car checked by a professional.

2. Planning your journey in advance not only allows you to avoid peak congestion times but also enables you to schedule breaks along the way. Taking regular breaks helps reduce fatigue and stress, contributing to a safer and more enjoyable trip.

3. Sharing the driving responsibilities with a fellow passenger can significantly reduce driver fatigue, enhancing overall road safety.

4. It's crucial for everyone, including pets if they're accompanying you, to stay hydrated during the journey. Research indicates that dehydrated drivers are more prone to errors such as late braking and drifting out of their lane. Adequate hydration also helps alleviate fatigue and headaches, so make sure to have plenty of water available for everyone.

5. Opt for convenient and non-messy snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, and vegetable sticks to keep hunger at bay during the journey. Remember to enjoy any Easter treats away from the car to avoid distractions and potential mess.