RAC urges drivers to prepare for 50% increase in congestion over bank holiday

Article date: 24 May 2007

With RAC predicting this weekend's bank holiday traffic will increase by 50% compared to a normal weekend, motorists are being urged to get prepared for their journeys. Congestion is likely to peak at noon this Friday and could bring popular routes to a virtual standstill.

To compound the congestion, half (45%) of Brits told researchers for RAC that their road trips will be spontaneous and dependent on the weather conditions, and a fifth (20%) admitted they will take less than 15 minutes to prepare. It is therefore not surprising that over five million Brits say they have ended up lost on a bank holiday car trip*.

Unprepared and lost drivers could find themselves in severe traffic jams in the areas identified by RAC and Trafficmaster as this weekend's key congestion hotspots:

  • M6 southbound into and through the West Midlands (J15-1)
  • M25 Western and Northern sections (J9-28)
  • M1 between J6A and J12
  • M1 northbound from J21 up to J30
  • M5 from Almondsbury into the West Country
  • M6 from the West Midlands northwards through Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire towards the Lake District
  • M55 to Blackpool
  • M4 westwards from London towards the M5 and South Wales.

There is also likely to be increased traffic to the main airports as motorists set off on holiday. Particularly affected will be: Heathrow (M25 and M4), Gatwick (M23), Stansted (M11), Luton (M1), Birmingham (M42 and A45), and Manchester (M56).

Liz Kennett, RAC spokesperson, commented: "Unlike the May Day bank holiday, many motorists will be using this weekend as an opportunity to take a longer break, by visiting family, heading to the coast, or even flying abroad with the kids during half term.

"We expect congestion to build up from today as drivers start making their escape, peaking on Friday and continuing into the weekend. RAC urges motorists to make sure they are prepared for their journeys by planning their route and undertaking basic maintenance on their vehicles to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown."

Trafficmaster spokesman Philip Hale, said: "Cars that would normally be on the road at 6-7am, commuting to a workplace, will be instead on the road through the day, travelling to different places. If fine, you could expect this to be coastal locations or parks; if not, we would expect to see busier town and shopping centres and retail parks."

Research has revealed that three quarters of motorists say they go on long journeys without packing the bare essentials, such as spare oil or water. RAC is urging motorists to plan properly, and has put together some top tips that will help motorists prepare for long journeys this bank holiday:

  1. Plan your route in advance using rac.co.uk/routeplanner. Try to avoid congestion hotspots where possible
  2. Check your vehicle is regularly serviced - consult your owner's handbook for recommended intervals
  3. Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting - especially when the forecast could be for rain
  4. Check oil and water levels. Ensure they are topped up correctly
  5. The condition of your tyres (inc the spare) should be checked for pressure and tread depth before embarking on a long journey.


RAC Press office contact:
Lucy Haughey (01603 354337/07800 690149) or Liz Kennett (01603 688263/07800 699667) or Vickie Tindall on 0207 908 6536

ISDN telephone interviews and filming opportunities at RAC Bescot, with views of the M6 and RAC's busy call centre are available on request.

Notes to editors:
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1003 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 18-20th May 2007. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk

* 16% of UK motorists reported that they have got lost during a bank holiday car trip. There are 32.8 million licensed vehicles in the UK therefore 5.25 million drivers have got lost over a bank holiday weekend.

About RAC
The average UK motorist reported they would travel 55 additional miles over the bank holiday weekend. There are 32.8 million licensed vehicles in the UK therefore an extra 1.8 billion miles could be driven over the bank holiday weekend.

With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

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