We expect you’re all pretty road savvy, especially when there’s a bank holiday, but you may wish to share our advice with your own customers.
It’s that time of year again when we take to the roads in our millions as part of the great bank holiday get-away. In fact, more than 15 million of us will find ourselves behind the wheel this weekend as we embark on a day trip, weekend break or holiday, according to the motoring organisation the RAC.
Traffic set to hit a 3 year high
If you’re planning on heading off, be warned, the RAC predicts the highest number of vehicles on the road in three years with a million more than last year, according to figures from its RAC Traffic Watch.
Unlike the half-term school holidays in October and February, the bank holiday Monday on 30 May means pretty much every state school in England and Wales has the same week off.
Whilst it’s a peak time for holidays, often bookings can still be cheaper than during the summer holidays making it a key week away for families with school-age children.
Not surprisingly, the RAC’s study of the plans of 1,700 motorists reveal Saturday 28 May will be the busiest day when 4.5 million cars hit the road.
Today – Friday 27 May, will be the second busiest day when 3.9 million of us opt for an early escape to make the most of the long weekend. Some families will delay their week holiday until Sunday 29 May although 3.6 million getaway journeys are still expected.
For those of you who have to return on Monday for work on Tuesday, the roads will be slightly less congested with 3.3 million journeys expected.
The RAC warns Friday evening and Saturday from late morning to mid-afternoon will be the most congested times whilst Sunday from 11.00am to 4.00pm and Monday from 1.00pm to 6.00pm will also be particularly busy.
The good news for those setting out this weekend is RAC figures show the cost of your trip will be cheaper than last year. It will cost around £60 to fill up a petrol Ford Focus this year which is about £4 less than it was in 2015 and £11.50 cheaper than in 2014 following declining prices at the fuel pump.
Pleasant although not scorching weather has increased the number of motorists who have decided to head off for a break. Forecasters predict temperatures of 20C with the warmest weather being in the south of England although scattered showers are also predicted.
How to Avoid Bank Holiday Traffic
With nice weather on the way and millions of you hitting the motorway and heading for the coast as well as other leisure destinations, we’ve (very helpfully) put together a list of ways to avoid the bank holiday jams.
Avoid the busiest times
Knowledge is power and now fully informed of the busiest times to travel, simply avoid them!
Head off in the early hours
This is courtesy of one our Carvue contributors whose extended family always holidayed together on the Pembrokeshire coast when their children were young during the week-long half-term break in May. At the insistence of her step-dad, the family would rendezvous in Tenby at around 8.30am, just in time for breakfast. It entailed spending Friday night packing (and no wine) and an early rise around 4.00am and setting off at 4.30am-5.00am. Whilst the kids may have been too excited to sleep, no jams were virtually guaranteed and the sun rising when crossing the Severn Bridge was always an awesome sight!
Head off in the dead of night
Another friend of ours who lived down south but often travelled to visit family not far from Edinburgh always drove through the night. The gruelling journey of some six-hours may have taken its toll on the two drivers, but inevitably, after a regular night of dinner followed by bath time and PJs, would see their two young children sleep practically the entire journey. And, a lot less traffic, particularly in the late evening and early hours.
Take the road less travelled
For those of you who are unable to travel very early or very late or you just can’t seem to get your act together, opt for the route less travelled. If you do find yourself on the motorway with what appears to be the other three million bank holiday drivers (why are they all going my way?!), perhaps it’s time to head off-piste. The quieter roads may be longer and a more demanding drive, but in our book, it beats sitting behind all the other holidaymakers on the M5.
Avoid the popular roads
Routes to the coast, airports, ports, the Channel Tunnel and Eurostar inevitably become quickly congested on a bank holiday weekend. The RAC lists these roads as ones to avoid, especially at peak times, if possible:-
- M4, M5 and A303 towards the west
- Routes from Northern England to North Wales
- M56 and A55 in the north-west
- M6 and A590 around the Lake District
- M55 to Blackpool
- A47 between the Midlands and Norfolk
- M23 towards Brighton
- A2, M2 and M20 for Dover, Channel Tunnel and Eurostar
- Roads around all major airports.
Make sure your car is ready for a long haul
There’s nothing worse than being in a traffic jam than breaking down in a traffic jam so make sure your car receives a bit of TLC before heading off. Here at Carvue, we recommend you visit your friendly independent garage for a quick check although motorists can easily check oil levels and tyre tread themselves. The RAC also recommends breakdown cover is up-to-date should the worst happen.
Plan your journey
Make sure you know where you’re going and even have a detour in mind should traffic become bad.
Make sure you have snacks and drinks to hand should you find yourself in a jam which could last for hours and if you are travelling with children, ensure you have books, games and electronics within easy reach to keep them occupied – two hours of ‘I spy’ can become a little tiresome!
Tune into the local radio station to keep up with the latest traffic information and even stay one step ahead if congestion is reported further along.
Take a detour
If the going gets too tough, take a detour and head off to a park or other scenic location off the motorway or roads where traffic is congested. You will be able to stretch your legs and enjoy an unexpected visit whilst everyone else sits in the queue. You can resume your journey some hours later feeling refreshed and you can congratulate yourself that your day wasn’t wasted sat in traffic.