Drivers are set to make the most of the fine weather that is expected this bank holiday with an estimated 16.7m leisure trips planned, a similar number to 2019, new RAC Breakdown research suggests.

The figures suggest today, Friday could see the largest numbers of cars on the roads with 4.3m leisure journeys by car planned and, according to transport analytics experts INRIX, a 25% increase in delays compared to a typical day in August. Saturday will see 3.3m trips, bank holiday Monday 3m, with Sunday being slightly less busy (2.6m trips). In addition, drivers are planning a further 3.6m trips at some point over the course of the four days – with the hope of good late summer weather perhaps encouraging even more people to jump into the car for a day trip or last-minute break.

Roads in the South West of England are expected to bear the brunt of the traffic with an estimated 3.6m trips expected to and from the region between today and Monday.INRIX data suggests that some of the longest queues in the country could be in the South West with journey times on classic holiday routes like the M5 and A303 more than doubling at certain times over the weekend.

The RAC is warning those taking to the roads to expect queues and delays this weekend, but also urging drivers to do everything they can before setting out to avoid adding to the jams by breaking down. Many of the breakdowns RAC patrols will attend in the coming days are avoidable if drivers check their cars are ‘road ready’ before setting out. This includes checking tyre pressure and tread, checking oil and coolant levels and topping up where required. Drivers should also ensure their mobile phones are fully charged ahead of their journeys in case they are unlucky enough to break down. 

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “It’s been an incredibly busy summer on the UK’s roads with vast numbers of people on the move both for staycation holidays and for day trips to the sea and countryside. Our figures suggest this is a trend that will continue, with bumper-to-bumper bank holiday traffic expected, especially on the most popular holiday routes.

“While this weekend will see many people returning from summer holidays in the UK, the fine and settled weather will also be seen as an opportunity by lots of people to jump in their cars for last-minute trips – after all, this is the last bank holiday weekend in England, Wales and Northern Ireland before Christmas.”

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said: “Drivers hitting the road for one last getaway before the end of summer should expect long delays on key corridors. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice is to avoid travelling in the afternoon – leave early in the day or be prepared for some travel times to double.”

Around 98% of National Highways’ roads in England will be free of roadworks over the bank holiday period. A total of 988 carriageway miles of roadworks will be completed (833) or suspended (156) ahead of the bank holiday. Some roadworks need to be kept in place for safety reasons, and motorists are encouraged to plan their journeys before setting off by visiting www.trafficengland.com for real-time traffic updates.  

The fastest way for RAC members to log a breakdown and get help is online at www.rac.co.uk/reportbreakdown.