How to find road traffic information and avoid delays

With the schools out for the summer, many people will be hitting the roads to go on holiday. Here's how you can find the latest traffic information.

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

More than 10 million people took to the roads in early July. This followed the easing of lockdown measures put in place in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The following six weeks are likely to be similarly busy on the roads. The school year has ended and many people have decided to holiday in the UK. Traffic problems and delays are almost inevitable.

Research by VisitBritain and VisitEngland shows that seaside towns and countryside villages are likely to be the most popular destinations.

The South West of England and Scotland are braced for an influx of visitors, with caravanning and camping also likely to be popular.

The busiest roads of summer 2020

Although delays are expected across the country, some regions are busier than others. Other factors such as the weather and roadworks can lead to unexpected delays.

Highways England expects the following the roads and routes to be particularly busy:

  • Destination: South West of England
    • M5
    • M4
    • A303
    • A30
  • Destination: Scotland
    • Via the east of England
      • M1
      • A1
      • A1M
    • Via the west of England
      • M6

How to find the latest traffic information

Department for Transport policing review

There are a number of ways to find the latest traffic information. If you’re planning a journey or trying to avoid a traffic jam ahead, here are some of the best ways to avoid a delay.

Satellite navigation

Whether you’re using a satellite navigation built into the car or an aftermarket unit, having access to live traffic information can be extremely useful.

Simply set the destination, then allow the sat-nav to work its magic. Some systems will recalculate the route on the fly, while others will alert you to the problem and provide a suggested alternative. You can make a call on whether or not it’s worth making a detour.



Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. In other words, the information it shares and receives is driven by its users. Waze collects the information to provide other ‘Wazers’ with the most optimal route to their destination.

Users can also report to the community on traffic, accidents, speed cameras, blocked roads and weather conditions. Although it’s free to download and use the app, phone and carrier data rates apply. An all-inclusive data package is recommended.

Live traffic information

In addition to the real-time traffic information provided by some satellite navigation systems, it’s also possible to get details of jams by going online.

In England, head to the Traffic England website to see a map showing real-time traffic information. It features a colour-coded road atlas, ranging from green for ‘moving freely’ to black for ‘not moving’. There’s also a chequered design for ‘closed’.

traffic delays on the M5 near Bristol

You can also see details of the congestion, including the length and reason for the delay, and when Highways England expects things to return to normal.

Similar services are available in Scotland and Wales.


Although it might be tempting to listen to your favourite ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ playlist or the Peter Crouch podcast on the way to the beach, it makes sense to listen to the radio.

BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 5 Live provide traffic updates throughout the day, or you could listen to one of the BBC local radio stations. Alternatively, tune in to one of the many commercial radio stations. A full list of national, regional and local radio stations can be found here.

Roadworks information

If you like to plan ahead, grab five minutes to take a look at any roadworks on your proposed route to the coast. It might be worth finding an alternative route, especially during peak times, such as Friday evenings and weekends. Be warned: some major road improvement schemes are carried out at night, so travelling overnight doesn’t always pay off.

Click here for more motoring advice and guidance.

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Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.



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