Drivers are being warned to expect major delays and queues on the roads this Easter weekend as bank holiday traffic is predicted to hit an eight-year high.
This weekend is the first bank holiday of the year and the first since virtually all Covid restrictions were lifted and households are expected to make the most of it, with more than 21.6 million leisure trips planned between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
The RAC has said that drivers should be prepared for their journeys to take longer than usual as millions of families make extra journeys, despite the soaring cost of motoring.
It advised drivers to set off early in the morning or leave their journeys until much later in the day to avoid the worst of the jams, which could add hours to some trips.
Which roads will be the busiest this Easter?
Good Friday is expected to be the busiest on the roads, with an additional 4.62m leisure trips by car expected. Saturday and Sunday will both see 3.63m extra journeys, while the RAC and traffic data partner Inrix expect an additional 3.96m trips on Easter Monday.
Inrix has identified a number of traffic hot spots where congestion is expected to worst including the M25 between junctions 8 and 16, the A303 approaching Stonehenge, the northbound M6 between junctions 26 and 36, southbound M6 from junction 20 to 16 and the M3 from junction 14 to seven.
Peak travel times will be worst on Good Friday, with the RAC urging drivers to set off before 9am or travel after 7.30pm in order to avoid the worst traffic conditions. Saturday and Sunday traffic is expected to peak between 10am and 2pm while Monday’s traffic will be at its worst between 12pm and 2.30pm.
The motoring body also warned that matters on the roads will be made worse by problems on the railways.
Why the roads are expected to be busy this Easter
Major engineering works between London and Birmingham are expected to force more people onto the roads, coinciding with the FA Cup semi-final in London and scheduled strike action in Scotland and the north of England.
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.”
The Easter traffic predictions come on top of chaos on roads in Kent as drivers queue for hours around Dover. Hold-ups around the port have been caused by the “perfect storm” of the start of the holidays, bad weather and the suspension of all P&O ferry sailings between Dover and Calais after it sacked more than 800 staff without warning. The ferry operator said it would not restart sailings until Good Friday at the earliest.
In addition to the expected congestion, drivers face the costliest Easter on record with petrol and diesel prices still at near-record levels and shortages of diesel in some parts of southern England.
The RAC found that a fifth of drivers plan to travel a shorter distance this Easter than in previous years, with the same proportion saying they’ll be cutting back on other Easter expenditure because of high petrol and diesel prices.