Eggstremely busy roads this Easter says RAC

Article date: 26 March 2010

RAC predicts that traffic this Easter will be the busiest in years as over 20 million motorists1 get out over the holiday period – with many making their first long distance trip following this year’s unusually long, cold winter.

However the cost of travelling to visit family and friends will be far higher this year.  The cost of filling an average tank (55 litres) with unleaded petrol has risen 24% from £52.09 in April 2009 to £64.35 now. The cost for diesel car owners to fill up has also risen, currently costing £64.68 - a rise of 15% from £56.38 in April 20092

Almost one in three people said record fuel prices had affected their decision not to travel over Easter. Not surprisingly three in four of those travelling will be looking for the cheapest place to fill up as motorists hunt this Easter for the cheapest fuel. 

Maundy Thursday, 1 April will see the start of the holiday get away as traffic volumes build through the afternoon. Traffic volumes will remain high across Good Friday and Saturday. Easter Sunday is expected to be one of the quietest days of the year.  Easter Monday will see volumes increase during the afternoon and early evening and Tuesday will be busy as people return to work or from trips away. As with any bank holiday, the weather will have a considerable bearing on people’s plans.

Prakesh "Crackers" Patel, RAC Patrol Ambassador of the Year, says: “We advise motorists to plan ahead to get their holiday off to a good start. Allowing extra time for your journey and planning your route carefully can help take the stress out of your trip.”

RAC expects to be busy with breakdown call outs over the weekend as this will be the first time that many people will have taken their cars on longer journeys since the big freeze and nearly one in three people surveyed said they will not be making any maintenance checks on their vehicles before travelling. Holiday makers will, on average, travel more than 90 miles to their destination over the break.

RAC recently reported3 that the coldest winter for over 30 years has left motorists with an additional spring cleaning bill in excess of £1.9 billion. Nearly half (46%) of motorists surveyed had spent more on car maintenance this winter than last - on average £115 more.  

Before heading off, RAC advises motorists to do a few simple checks to ensure your car is ready for the road:

  • Make sure you have plenty of screenwash – the level is likely to be low after the prolonged bad weather. It’s a legal requirement to have good all-round visibility when driving so make sure you top-up to avoid running out.
  • A dirty number plate can also lead to prosecution for illegal driving and headlights covered with dirt and salt can limit your ability to drive at night. A quick clean can solve these problems with minimum effort. Also check that all lights are working – including brake lights and indicators.
  • Take the time to check tyre tread depths and pressure levels are correct – don’t forget to check the spare! Underinflated tyres can increase fuel consumption and pose a greater risk to the car’s overall road safety.

Top tips for travelling over Easter:

  1. Plan your route and have an alternative at the ready in case of delays or bad weather. Check local radio stations or RAC’s live traffic information on 64644, which has the ability to detect your position from you mobile.
  2. RAC also has an app available to download for free4 which shows the start and end point of traffic congestion.
  3. Allow extra time for your journey, particularly if you are heading for a popular resort or you are travelling at peak times.
  4. Take something to eat and drink just in case you get caught up in traffic congestion.
  5. Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey – driving in stop start conditions uses more fuel.
  6. Never overload your vehicle or caravan beyond its designed carrying capacity – check your owner’s manual for the relevant information.

Although most road works will be suspended for the holiday period, many motorists will be forced to use their cars – due to the likelihood of rail services being paralysed through strike action – to ensure they can reach their destination.

Traffic hotspots5 over the holiday weekend include:

From London

  • To the North: M1, A1, A1(M)
  • To the North West: M1, M6, M6 Toll
  • To Scotland: As above, plus A74M, M74
  • To Wales and West Country: M4 (also for Heathrow) M5
  • To the South West: M3, A303, M5
  • To Gatwick: M23
  • To Stansted: M11
  • A1065 Barton Mills Suffolk slow from Barton Mills to Brandon with traffic heading to Centre Parcs
  • Widening works on the M1 J10-12 will cause heavier queues than normal on the northbound side on Friday and on the southbound side Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning as people head back to London
  • Also M25 J27-J28 widening works will cause queues in both directions. M25 clockwise to QE2 bridge will also be busy.

From the South West

  • A303 Westbound from Bulford to Stonehenge
  • A30 from Devon to Cornwall
  • A38 across Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
  • M4 Westbound from J19 (Bristol) to J20 (Almondsbury Interchange)
  • M5 Southbound from J15 (Almondsbury Interchange) to J30 (Exeter) - whole stretch between Bristol and Devon with denser traffic flows over the split level section
  • A35 between Puddletown and Dorchester and around Bere regis.

From Birmingham

  • To London and the South East: M1 or M42/M40
  • To the South Coast: M40/A34
  • To the South West: M42/M5
  • To the North: M42/M1 (also East Midlands Airport)
  • To Scotland & North-West: M6, A74M, M74
  • A1 between Colsterworth and Blyth can get congested and the A46 between Bingham to up and past Lincoln through Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

Yorkshire & Humberside

  • Delays on the M1 at J34 for Meadowhall
  • A180 From Grimsby to the motorway
  • M606 from Bradford to the M62
  • M62 around J27 Gildersome.  This often gets congested due to the Retail Park and Ikea
  • M18 towards the M180
  • A61 between Harrogate and Leeds. 

From the North East 

  • Metro Centre - extra traffic on the A1, the A19 through the Tyne Tunnel and on the Tyne and Wear Metro
  • A19 from Middlesbrough towards York
  • Middlesbrough - Teeside Park - extra traffic on the A66
  • A167M Central motorway Newcastle
  • A1 Which becomes the A1M from Northumberland to the M1.

From the North West

  • To London & South East: M6 Toll, M1 or M42/M40
  • To the South West: M6, M5
  • To the North East: M62, M1, A1
  • To Scotland: M6, A74M, M74
  • Holiday destinations such as shopping centres (Trafford Centre J10 of the M60), parts of the lake district (Windermere and Kendal), and coastal areas (M55 J3 towards Blackpool) are likely to be busy.

North Wales

  • Drome Corner to Queensferry on the A494 travelling South/Westbound. Usual congestion spot for holiday periods and sometimes during weekday rush-hours
  • A55 Britannia Bridge. Congestion in both directions during holiday periods and often 30mph speed restrictions in operation during adverse weather conditions which can also cause delays
  • A487 heading South from Caernarfon towards the Llanwrda roundabout.

South Wales

  • The M4 J29 St Mellons has a set of long-term ongoing roadworks with a speed restriction of 50mph. This is always a black spot during weekday rush-hours and holiday periods, usually congestion builds in both directions for several miles
  • The M4 both directions around the Brynglas Tunnels J26 (Malpas). During weekday rush-hour and holiday periods this is a usual busy spot with traffic congestion in both directions leading up to the Brynglas Tunnels. Eastbound from J27 (Highcross) to J26 also extra busy as delays build on the exit slip road to exit the motorway at J26
  • Often delays on the M4 Westbound coming into Wales approaching the toll booths. Motorists are encouraged to use the M48 Severn Crossing near Chepstow as an alternative route as this does not add much extra time to the journey and traffic is often very light
  • The A48(M) leaving Cardiff heading up Westbound/Inbound towards St Mellons is likey to be busy with queues of around 2 miles.  There are long-term roadworks in the area
  • The Pensarn roundabout on the A48 westbound is a black spot around holiday periods.

Scotland

  • Drivers should be aware that the current lane restrictions at A80/M73 Mollinsburn will be modified from Tuesday 23 March. There are ongoing roadworks on the road for carriageway upgrades and will cause disruption
  • M9 both ways from J1A to J2 - new roadworks for bridge maintenance at Old Philpstoun Bridge, a contraflow will be in place, however during the Easter weekend, Friday 2nd April to Monday 5th April tidal timings may be altered to cater for change in traffic flow pattern due to the holiday period
  • A84 is likely to be busy towards Blair Drummond Safari Park, Central Scotland 
  • Congestion is expected on routes around Stirling Castle as they are holding a number of Easter events over the Easter weekend.  This will mainly affect Stirling town centre 
  • A82 to and from Loch Lomond 
  • A84 to Callander 
  • A8 Corstorphine Road in Edinburgh at Edinburgh Zoo 
  • Usual congestion will remain around the M8 eastbound from J23 Dumbreck Road, over the Kingston Bridge to J16 Townhead  and on the M8 westbound from J11 Stepps to J19 Charing Cross.

Motorists need to watch out for the widening works on the M1 J10-12 – these are likely to cause heavier queues than normal on the northbound side on Good Friday and on the southbound side on Easter Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning as people head back to London. This may also affect people if they are heading for Luton Airport.

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

-ends-

RAC Press office contacts:
Vicki Burn on 01603 684224 / 07800 692909
Erik Nelson on 01603 682264 / 07989 427086 

Notes to editors:

1 One Poll conducted an omnibus survey with 2000 respondents on behalf of RAC on 22 March 2010. According to SMMT vehicles in use 2008 there are 31 million cars on the UK’s roads. RAC’s survey indicates that 76%of motorists will be traveling over the holiday period which equates to over 20 million vehicles.

2 Fuel prices sourced from www.petrolprices.com/

3 According to the Cost of Cold survey results - the average costs increased by £115 for the 46% of car owners (an equivilent of 16.89 million drivers) who spent more this winter than last winter on car maintenance. The total number of full license holders in the UK is 36.72 million according to the DVLA (16,890,000 x £115 = £1,942,350,000 – the cost of the cold to British motorists)

ICM Research conducted an omnibus survey with 2,044 respondents on behalf of RAC Insurance, 3 March 2010.

4 Motorists can download the free app at the iTunes App Store and Android Market.  The app shows start and end points of congestion, overlayed onto Google Maps. The app pinpoints the user’s exact location, meaning an immediate view of regional traffic is easily at hand. Text and audio summaries of traffic conditions are also available

5 According to Trafficlink – the UK’s biggest traffic and travel news provider www.trafficlink.co.uk

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