Drivers are being warned to expect traffic jams and delays on key roads around the country as motorists take almost 20 million leisure journeys over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.
With the bank holiday weekend expected to affect travel across five days, transport experts from Inrix and the RAC are predicting a massive spike in journeys, with the potential for huge hold-ups on the busiest routes.
On the worst affected routes, drivers are being urged to get on the road before 6am or face major congestion throughout the day.
Key routes in England’s south-east and south-west along with major link roads in central Scotland are among those expected to be hit with heavy traffic as the long weekend coincides with the end of the English half term.
While the busiest periods are expected on Thursday and Friday, Wednesday is also expected to see far busier roads as many drivers try to get away ahead of the bank holiday.
Holidaymakers will take a total of 19.5m leisure journeys between Wednesday and Sunday, according to the RAC and Inrix, with 3.6m on Friday and 3.3m on Thursday.
Among the worst affected routes are expected to be the M25 around London, the M5 near Bristol, the A303 in Wiltshire and the A720 near Edinburgh.
Inrix’s experts predict that traffic will be worst in the mornings each day and have advised day-trippers and holidaymakers to either head off early or wait until mid-afternoon in order to avoid the worst congestion and delays.
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Drivers clearly see a double bank holiday this close to the summer as a gift with so millions eager to make the most of it – although many appear keen to keep their car journeys short, perhaps mixing a daytrip or two with a Jubilee celebration at home.
“The fact the bank holidays coincide with the end of half-term in many places has the potential to put some extra pressure on the road network, so planning a journey carefully is important to beat the worst of any queues.”
Roads authorities have worked to minimise closures on major routes during the bank holiday weekend but a number of roads are still expected to close for works. Overnight works on A1 , A11 and A12 will see some sections closed until early morning, while an eastbound stretch of M62 between junction 36 and 37 will be shut every day between 4.30pm and 6am.
In Wales, works on the M53, A55, A5, A40, A49 are leading to lane closures and potential delays while in Scotland the A90, A725, A84 and A77 are also affected by lane closures and road works.
Travel around many major city centres is also being disrupted by road closures, with many local authorities shutting roads to allow for Jubilee celebrations.
The RAC is urging drivers to carry out basic pre-travel checks to ensure their car is in good condition and won’t spoil their trip with a breakdown.
Mr Dennis added: “The best way for drivers to avoid breaking down this week is to check over their vehicles before setting out – yet our research shows less than a fifth do this routinely.”
Separate research by the RAC found that the cost of living crisis and soaring price of fuel has affected some families’ plans for the bank holiday. More than a third of drivers (37%) plan to stay close to home rather than drive a considerable distance and, of these, 11% say they won’t be driving far due to the high price of fuel which hit new records again last week.