Busiest Easter bank holiday on the roads in eight years predicted

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13th April 2022

Drivers are being warned of record-high traffic levels for this coming Easter bank holiday, potentially bringing chaos and traffic jams in getaway hotspots. 

Some 21.46 million leisure journeys by car are being planned for this weekend; the highest number for an Easter bank holiday since the RAC first started tracking motorists’ plans in 2014.

Good Friday – the first bank holiday since the start of the year – is expected to be the worst day, with in the region of 4.62 million separate leisure trips. 

This is followed by bank holiday Monday (3.96 million) with Saturday and Sunday each seeing around 3.63m journeys by car. An additional estimated 5.6m trips will be taken by drivers at some point between Friday and Monday, according to the analysis by the RAC and transport analytics specialist Inrix.

The Easter getaway will likely be made worse by the impact of closures to some parts of the railway network. Major engineering work between London and Birmingham is likely to push more people onto the roads, including those making their way from Manchester and Liverpool to Wembley to watch the semi-final of the FA Cup on Saturday. Expected rail strikes in Scotland and the north of England could also make matters worse. 

Predicted traffic hotspots include the M6 north between Liverpool and the Lake District, south towards Stoke-on-Trent, the M25 between Surrey and the M40 exit, and the A303 near Stonehenge. 

To combat this, drivers are being urged to set off as early as they can or to delay their trips until the end of the day to stand a better chance of a smoother journey. The RAC is also strongly urging drivers to check their vehicles are ‘road-ready’ before setting out.  

RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “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. 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.” 

However, unlike previous Easter bank holidays, this coming weekend may see fewer long journeys undertaken – a fifth of drivers polled by the RAC said they were planning on driving shorter distances, specifically because of the extremely high cost of petrol and diesel at the moment.   

But Bob Pishue, Inrix transportation analyst, continued: “Even with a significant increase in petrol prices, we expect a large jump in holiday driving compared to the last few years. Drivers should expect congestion on major roadways around urban areas and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

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