Almost 11 million car trips planned as temperatures soar over long weekend

Drivers are being warned of a “sudden surge” in traffic on the roads over the bank holiday weekend as temperatures hot up.

Some 10.8 million leisure car journeys are expected to take place over the long weekend, according to research from the RAC, which could clog up major routes.

Traffic is expected to peak on Saturday and Monday, but the weather could play a part in just how busy the roads get.

Forecasters are predicting temperatures of 20C (68F) across parts of the UK on Saturday, while by Monday the mercury could hit 25C (77F) in west London, 21C (70F) in Leeds and 22C (72F) in Newcastle.

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Ben Aldous, from the RAC, said: “Our research points to Saturday and Monday being the busiest days, but in reality there’s a good chance the weather will have the final say as to how busy the roads get.

“A return to more typical late May temperatures and an end to the recent wind and rain could spark a sudden surge in journeys and mean some routes – especially those to the coasts and hills – start to clog up.”

Data from a survey of 1,100 UK drivers’ travel plans, conducted by the RAC between May 17 and 24, suggests there are approximately 7.2 million firm trips planned for over the bank holiday, and an additional 3.6 million due to be taken depending on the weather forecast.

The RAC said only one in 10 drivers is not planning a leisure trip this weekend, compared to 25% over Easter, because of motorists’ increased confidence in travelling longer distances.

RAC and Highways England has urged drivers to consider travelling outside the busiest times, and ensuring that adequate checks are carried out on their vehicle before any journeys are made.

Highways England traffic officer Dave Harford said: “If you haven’t driven for a while due to lockdown, you might feel a bit strange getting back behind the wheel.

“Checking your tyres, oil, screen-wash, lights and fuel doesn’t take long, but it will help keep you and your loved ones safe.”

Sunny weather
Warm weather is forecast for most of the country over the bank holiday weekend (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Meanwhile, the Rail Delivery Group said National Rail had reached roughly 40% of normal passenger numbers over the last few weeks, compared to under 10% during May last year.

Stations affected by improvement work this bank holiday include London King’s Cross, London St Pancras International, London Victoria and the West Coast Main Line.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Many people are looking forward to getting out and about this bank holiday and train companies are helping them to travel with confidence by maintaining enhanced cleaning and providing personalised alerts about busy services.

“Vital upgrades to make the railway more reliable will affect some journeys, so we’re asking passengers to check before they travel and plan journeys for quieter times if they can.”