RAC predicts worst ever Easter congestion

Article date: 19 March 2008

  • Credit crunch fears expected to increase domestic travel

RAC today predicts the worst ever Easter for traffic congestion with up to 16 million cars taking to the roads over the long weekend. The peak is expected from midday on Maundy Thursday when motorists are advised to allow 50% more time to their journeys. Economic fears leading Brits to shun foreign shores for holidays in the UK, the timing of Easter and the predicted rail chaos are key factors for the surge in car usage pinpointed by RAC.

RAC research has revealed that the credit crunch is taking its toll with nearly half (43%) of motorists less likely to travel abroad this Easter compared with last year. With Visit Britain predicting an increase on 2007 UK holidays at Easter, more motorists then ever are expected to take to the roads.

As Easter this year falls outside many school holidays, traffic is also expected to be more concentrated; with midday on Maundy Thursday pinpointed by the motoring organisation as the time when roads will be at their most congested. Traffic is also expected to be heavy late on Easter Monday as families rush back for school starting again on Tuesday.

An additional factor set to cause chaos on the roads is the wintry weather caused by a Siberian cold snap due to hit the UK on Thursday, just as the Easter getaway gets underway. If the weather conditions are bad, motorists are advised to only make journeys that are necessary and if they are travelling to take extra precautions. Motorists should carry spare warm clothes, food and drink and ensure that mobile phones are fully charged in case of emergency.

Top six traffic jam hot spots to avoid over the Easter break*:

  1. The most congested stretch will be the M5 between Bristol (M5 Junction 15) and the West Country as holidaymakers head to the coast
  2. The second busiest road will be the M4 between London and the M4/M5 interchange, and into South Wales
  3. Roads radiating out from and around the M25 London Orbital motorway
  4. The M1 from Junction 25 (Nottingham) to Junction 29 (Chesterfield)
  5. The M6 through the West Midlands from Junction 5 Junction 10)
  6. Routes from Lancashire to North Wales and the Lake District.

Top destinations for motorists this Easter according to RAC research are seaside locations (such as Cornwall) and the countryside (such as the Lake District) along with local trips to see the family, with nearly four in ten (38%) of motorists planning to make such trips by car this Easter. Visit Britain is also predicting record visitor numbers in British holiday resorts.

Neil Thompson, RAC spokesman, says: "Easter is always one of our busiest periods of the year, but this Easter's getaway is expected to be more intense as motorists shun foreign travel in favour of domestic driving holidays. This combined with the short break for Easter will lead to a nightmare Maundy Thursday for motorists especially if the bad weather hits. Our advice is to leave extra time for journeys and, where possible, try to get away a few hours early to beat the rush."

Tom Wright, Chief Executive of national tourism agency VisitBritain, comments: "The current economic outlook could mean British resorts are bracing themselves for bumper visitor numbers this Easter. Families with school age children have only four days to enjoy their Easter break this year so we're going to experience a concentrated few days of domestic travel. There's a real opportunity this year for Brits to rediscover what's on their own doorstep - just make sure you leave enough time to get there!"

RAC recommends the following tips to help motorists make the most of the Easter break:

  1. Plan your route and have an alternative at the ready in case of delays. Check local radio stations or travel services at http://www.rac.co.uk
  2. Don't add to the stress of traffic jams by getting lost! Take time to carefully plan your route in advance of your journey.
  3. Allow extra time for your journey, especially if you are heading for a popular resort or you are travelling at peak times
  4. Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey. Be aware that the stop/start actions of sitting in traffic jams use more fuel. RAC research shows that 64% of motorists do not know that £20 of petrol will only last an average of 130 miles.
  5. Checking oil and water levels and the pressure and condition of the tyres before setting off could help to prevent a breakdown.


RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn 01603 684224/07800 692909, Sonia Clarke (020 7908 6570) or Louis Blake (020 7908 6523)

Notes to editors:

* According to Trafficmaster

RAC commissioned Tickbox to carry out the research. Tickbox surveyed 1005 motorists from 04/03/08 - 6 March 2008.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, 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.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by JD Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the past two years.

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 http://www.racnews.co.uk.

Back to top