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Nearly 14.5m cars making leisure trips this coming Easter weekend

Press Release   •   Apr 08, 2017 00:01 BST

The RAC is warning motorists that leisure traffic volumes will reach a peak on Easter Sunday when there will be nearly 3.75m cars on the road as families take a trip to visit loved ones or elsewhere over the double Bank Holiday weekend, or return from an Easter break.

RAC data shows that motorists are planning a total of 12.8m leisure car journeys across the four-day Easter Bank Holiday, or 14.3m including Maundy Thursday travellers, as they make the most of the long weekend.

RAC Traffic Watch spokesman Rod Dennis said: “The Easter getaway is the first big holiday break of the year for many people and 2017 promises to be no exception. While many schools across the country have already broken up, we’re expecting millions of working families to make the most of the long weekend and jump in the car for a leisure trip.

“But things are a little different this year to last – with many schools having already broken up, a lot of traffic on Easter Sunday in particular will likely be families returning from trips.

“We are expecting Maundy Thursday to see just over 1.5m cars taking to the roads on leisure trips, but this will almost double to 2.8m trips on Good Friday and 3.1m trips on Saturday. Easter Sunday is set to be the busiest with 3.74m using their cars – either to travel to visit friends and loved ones, or to return home – so drivers should expect some queues on the most popular routes.

“More than three million leisure trips will take place on Easter Monday, perhaps as more people head back home for the start of the working week – although with school holidays continuing in some parts of the country the roads remain busy with a total of 9m leisure trips planned during the following week from Tuesday 18th through to Sunday 23rd April.”

But after nearly three weeks of decent spring time weather, the forecast for the Easter weekend is looking rather less rosy with cooler temperatures expected.

Grahame Madge, a spokesman with the Met Office, said: “With many people facing long journeys over the Easter holidays, it’s always wise to ease any potential difficulties by checking the forecast first. Rain or shine, the weather can have significant impact on any trip and the comfort of travellers. With the forecast available on the Met Office app, it’s never been easier for passengers to keep up to date with the latest weather from the palm of their hand.”

Rod Dennis added: “Easter is a busy time for our breakdown patrols, so we are urging drivers travelling any great distance to make sure their car is up to the job before they set out. It takes just moments to make sure that oil and coolant are at the right levels, and it’s also a good idea to top up washer fluid to keep the windscreen clear – especially of insects if you are taking to more rural roads.

“It is likely the usual main road arteries will suffer the consequences of lots of us trying to get away for the double bank holiday weekend by car. Our advice, if you can, is to head off early to beat other travellers, but to expect some jams on major routes.”


Easter traffic hotspots

  • M5 from Bristol to Taunton
  • A303 Stonehenge
  • A30 and A38 Exeter to Cornwall
  • M4 between Cardiff and Swansea
  • M25 between Gatwick and M1
  • A23/M23 to Brighton
  • A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth
  • M55 between Preston and Blackpool
  • A14 between Midlands and East Coast
  • A66 between M6 and the coast
  • M53 between Liverpool and Chester
  • A55 North Wales Expressway, Chester to Bangor


Easter weekend – expected peak travel times

Date Best times to travel
Maundy Thursday 13th April Before 4pm or after 8pm
Good Friday 14th April Before 9am and after 4pm
Saturday 15th April Before 10am and after 4pm
Easter Sunday 16th April Before 10am and after 4pm
Bank Holiday Monday 17th April Before 12pm and after 6pm

Highways England has announced it is lifting more than 300 miles of roadworks to improve journeys and almost 98 per cent of all motorways and strategic A roads in England will be roadworks-free over the bank holiday in a measure to ease disruption.

To help plan a journey, download the free RAC App for iPhone or Android smartphones or visit www.rac.co.uk to use RAC Route Planner, which gives the most up to date road information available including incidents and ongoing roadworks and weather. 

Notes to Editors

* Based on research conducted by Ragdoll in April 2017 with 2,173 motorists. Daily traffic volumes extrapolated from 31.17m licensed cars. Respondents were asked on which dates they would be using a car to travel on major A roads or motorways in order to get away on a leisure trip/visit family and friends, or return from such a trip (i.e. not travelling for the purposes of work).

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