Traffic returning to pre-Covid levels after bank holiday rush, says AA

Traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels with a “perfect storm” of congestion over the bank holiday weekend, the AA has said.

The return of music festivals, international travel restrictions and scepticism about the safety of public transport will lead to 18.4 million car journeys being made over the three days, according to the motoring association.

The number of cars on the road will increase by 37% on last year’s August Bank Holiday weekend total, according to the AA, after 2020 was severely affected by coronavirus restrictions.

M25 traffic
Traffic on the M25 (Michael Hill/PA)

Friday evening saw “bumper-to-bumper” traffic on many of the country’s motorways – including the M1, M5, M6, M25 and M56 – as many people left on their getaways, and the AA said more gridlock will follow on Monday.

Edmund King, the AA’s president, said: “There are likely to be big delays on the roads where holiday traffic mixes with sporting or shopping day trippers.

“Covid’s disruption to people’s lives is still noticeable in the 10% fewer long-distance trippers this August. The drop in longer trips might be due to the difficulty in booking accommodation away from home due to more families taking their holidays in the UK.”

Speaking to the PA news agency, an AA spokesperson added that festivals, domestic holidays and aversion to public transport have “created the perfect storm, for want of a better term, for congestion”.

Crowds at Reading Festival
Crowds at Reading Festival (Steve Parsons/PA)

Heavy traffic is expected around Leeds and Reading following the major music festivals over the weekend, with most revellers unlikely to use public transport.

Routes touted for congestion are classic congestion hotspots like the M25, M5 and A303, but the AA stressed that many holidaymakers have driven to destinations within 50 miles of their home.

The organisation said places like Cornwall, Norfolk and the Kent coast could experience localised gridlock as tourists return home.

Non-league football fixtures on Monday could also spell delays on the roads.