August bank holiday: the roads to avoid

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

It’s the August bank holiday weekend and that means one thing for Britain’s motorists: traffic. Both the RAC and Green Flag have supplied lists of roads likely to prove troublesome over the bank holiday period.

Here’s the what, when and where of the roads you need to avoid.

Bank holiday mayhem

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

The RAC predicts that there will be some 16.5 million leasure trips by car taken this bank holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, Green Flag, based on data from last year, is estimating that it will receive 138,000 calls for breakdowns over the period between today (Friday 23 August) and Monday (26 August). It’s also predicting that some 77,000 incidents will occur on British roads during this period.

Your best chance of avoiding an incident or indeed a breakdown is steering clear of the most congested roadways at the most congested times. To that end, the RAC has collated its predictions for where it expects the most congestion to be, and when, based on data from analytics specialists INRIX.

Bank Holiday advice

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

Avoid the M25 and the M6 if at all possible. Friday and Saturday are likely to be the busiest, with over 9 million of the expected 16.5 million of this weekend’s leisure journeys expected to take place over today and tomorrow (Saturday)

Use your own knowledge of local roads and relevant traffic reports, as well as the following advice, when planning your journeys.

August bank holiday 2019 traffic

Friday 23 August

When: 11am to 6pm

Where: M25 south east anticlockwise, J4 Bromley to J1 Dartford – 3.15pm

  M6 north J18 Chester to J24 St Helens – 2pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the time’s they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey in the evening.

Saturday 24 August

When: 10.30am to 2pm

Where: M6 north J22 Newton to J26 Liverpool – 3.45pm

  M25 south east anticlockwise, J4 Bromley to J1 Dartford – 1.45pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the times they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey after 4pm.

Sunday 25 August

When: 12.30pm to 2pm

Where: M25 clockwise J7 Gatwick to J16 M40 – 1.30pm

  A303 West Amesbury to A36 – 5pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the times they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey early (before 10.30am) or later on (after 6.30pm).

Monday 26 August

When: 12pm and 2.30pm

Where: M6 south J27 Wigan to J13 Stafford – 2.15pm

  M25 anticlockwise J10 Guildford to J6 East Grinstead – 2.45pm

Advice: avoid the above routes at the times they’re expected to be most congested. If possible, take your journey early (before 11am) or later on (after 6pm).

bank holiday weekend traffic

“Bank holidays have historically been one of the busiest times for road trips, and this year drivers could even see record-level travel delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX.

“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Highways England to remove 480 miles of roadworks

Highways England to remove 480 miles of roadworks

Highways England is promising to keep 97 percent of its road network free of roadworks during the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

More than 480 miles of roadworks will be lifted or completed on motorways and A-roads, as motorists head home on the last Bank Holiday before Christmas.

“We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible and that’s why we’re keeping 97 percent of the road network we manage free from roadworks,” said Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer services director.

“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”

Highways England has produced a guide to carrying out safety checks on your vehicle, so there’s no excuse for leaving home without giving your car the once over.

The guide covers six key areas: oil, lights, tyre pressures, water, tyre tread and fuel.

‘Breakdowns still too common’

Where your car is most likely to breakdown

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “Breakdowns are still too common. We’d urge motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis.”

Former F1 champion Nigel Mansell is a strong advocate of checking your vehicle before a long trip. He said: “It should be a weekly task for the driver to make sure all lights are working on his or her car, all glass areas are clean, wipers clear the windscreen properly, tyres at least meet legal requirements and water and oil levels are topped up.

At the start of the summer, Highways England said it was expecting to respond to an extra 700 breakdowns a week over the holiday period, taking the average number of motorway breakdowns each week to almost 5,000.

Motorists are warned to expect delays on roads in and around the nation’s tourist hotspots, with the A30 and M5 out of Devon and Cornwall likely to be busy, along with the A303, M25, M6, M40 and M1.

For the latest traffic and travel information, use the AA Traffic News website or tune into your local radio station.

Check your car every week, says Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell says check your vehicle

Former Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell has backed calls to make Friday 19 July ‘check your vehicle day’.

It’s part of Highways England’s ongoing safety campaign around motorway driving, and comes ahead of what the RAC is calling ‘Frantic Friday’.

Millions of extra cars are likely to hit the road this weekend as the nation’s schools break up for the summer and families head to the traditional tourist hotspots. Highways England and Nigel Mansell are urging motorists to carry out some basic checks in advance to avoid breaking down.

‘Getting to your finish line’

Nigel Mansell

The 1992 F1 champion said: “The ‘check your vehicle day’ is a great initiative from Highways England. As someone who raced in Formula 1 for well over a decade, I know a thing or two about good vehicle preparation – and what this means for getting to your finish line.

“Making sure your car is fully ready for the journey ahead could not only save you and your family a lot of heartache on the way to your destination; but ensure that you, your occupants and other road users are as safe as possible.

“It should be a weekly task for the driver to make sure all lights are working on his or her car, all glass areas are clean, wipers clear the windscreen properly, tyres at least meet legal requirements and water and oil levels are topped up.

“I am delighted to give my stamp of approval to Highways England’s call to action and please pay attention to it, as it could save your life and those around you.”

Basic checks to avoid a breakdown

Check your car every week, says Nigel Mansell

Highways England is expecting to respond to an extra 700 breakdowns a week over the six-week school holiday period, increasing the number of motorway breakdowns a week to almost 5,000. Many breakdowns could be avoided by carrying out some basic checks before leaving home. For example:

  • Check the tyre pressures, paying close attention to specific guidelines for a vehicle loaded with passengers and luggage.
  • Check the engine oil using the dipstick, and top up if required. If the vehicle is consuming too much oil, speak to a mechanic in advance of a long journey.
  • Check the coolant to ensure that it sits between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels.
  • Check that the wipers are in good condition and there’s sufficient screenwash in the reservoir.
  • Check all of the lights, including headlights, brake lights, reversing lights and indicators.
  • Check the fuel, refilling close to home is a good idea in case you get stuck in congestion. A distress purchase of fuel on the motorway is likely to be expensive.

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “Breakdowns are still too common. We’d urge motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis and this week is really important because we know that many schools break up for summer and people are setting off on holidays and getaways.”

Motorists told to prepare for ‘Frantic Friday’

Drivers told to prepare for Frantic Friday

Drivers are being warned to prepare for ‘Frantic Friday’ as millions of motorists hit the roads for their summer getaway.

Around 5.3 million extra cars are expected to be on the road this Friday, with the M25 and M1 likely to see the longest delays. Overall, drivers are expected to take 13.4 million separate leisure trips between Friday and the end of the weekend.

That’s the highest number in five years and 4 million more than the same period last year, according to the RAC and transportation analytics firm INRIX.

Drivers on the M1 and M25 are likely to be delayed by 90 minutes and 60 minutes respectively, but congestion is also expected on the M40, M20, M6 and M5 motorways, along with the A30 heading through Devon and into Cornwall.

traffic delays on the M5 near Bristol

Although Friday and Saturday are likely to be the busiest days on the road, some drivers will attempt an early getaway, with Thursday afternoon seeing a spike in traffic from around lunchtime.

‘Frantic Friday’ and the weekend at a glance


DateLeisure trips by carPeak periodsQuieter periods Longest delays
Thursday 18 July3.7 million1.45pm to 6.45pmAfter 8pmM40 south (J14 to J11)

M5 south (J4 to J8)

‘Frantic Friday’ 19 July5.3 million11am to 6.45pmAfter 8pmM1 south (J16 to J6)

M25 anticlockwise (J4 to J11)

Saturday 20 July5 million11am to 2pmBefore 9.30am or after 4.30pmM20 west (J7 to J3)

A30 west (Pathfinder to Whiddon Down)

Sunday 21 July3.1 million1pm to 3pmBefore 11am or after 8pmM1 north (J12 to J16)

M25 anticlockwise (J4 to J1)

Monday 22 July2.8 million11.30am to 6pmAfter 7pmM6 north (J5 to J10a)

M25 anticlockwise (J7 to J12)

‘Hours of frustration’

traffic congestion uk

RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “The last thing any family wants is a breakdown spoiling the start of their summer holiday they’ve no doubt been looking forward to for a long time. Traffic jams are pretty much guaranteed from the end of this weekend and while it’s possible to predict where some of these will be, every summer we see extra delays caused by broken-down vehicles blocking lanes, leaving drivers faced with hours of frustration.

“We therefore urge holidaymakers to heed the advice and spend just a few minutes checking the basics like oil, coolant and tyre tread and pressure on their cars before they get packed up. Doing this could make the difference between a smooth and trouble-free journey, and one plagued by the stress and wasted time that comes from being broken-down at the roadside.”

Use the FORCES

Checking car ahead of Frantic Friday

Drivers are being advised to use the FORCES to keep moving over the ‘Frantic Friday’ weekend. FORCES is a six-point checklist drivers can use before setting off for a long journey.

Fuel: don’t risk running out of fuel – refill at the beginning of your journey

Oil: check it’s at the right level to reduce the chances of overheating in traffic

Rubber: tyres need to be properly inflated and in good condition

Coolant: this does a vital job in ensuring the engine runs at the right temperature. If it’s not between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ levels, this could be the sign of a problem

Electrics: your wipers will help keep your windscreen clear of bugs, and you’ll need your lights on during any heavy downpours. The electrics also control your indicators and windows, so check there are no problems

Screenwash: helps keep your windscreen clear

M25 motorway

Traffic alert: Britain’s five busiest road sections revealed

M25 motorway

The government has revealed the five busiest road sections in Great Britain, and it won’t surprise you to discover that four of them are on the M25.

Predictably, the stretch linking junction 14 at Heathrow Airport with the M4 at junction 15 is the most congested, with 219,000 vehicles using the section EVERY DAY in 2018.

Junction 13 at Staines to junction 14 is the next busiest road with 206,000 vehicles, with junction 15 to junction 16 for the M40 motorway next up with 201,000 vehicles.

The section linking junctions 12 and 13 completes the misery for motorists forced to use the M25 on a daily basis, with 193,000 vehicles hitting the short section every day.

Only the M1 between junction 9 for Rebourn and junction 8 for Hemel Hempstead manages to muscle in on the M25’s dominance, with 184,000 vehicles using the stretch of motorway in Hertfordshire.

Commuters on the M25

The figures were taken by an analysis of the Strategic Road Network (SRN), which is made up of motorways and major trunk roads managed by Highways England, or equivalent truck road networks in the devolved administrations.

Amazingly, although the SRN makes up just 2.4 percent of England’s road network, it carried 34 percent of all motorised traffic in England.

Even more amazing – if you enjoy road statistics – is the fact that, at a national level, 85 percent of Britain’s traffic was on England’s roads in 2018. If you need a break, head to Scotland or Wales…

Of the five local authorities in England with the highest levels of traffic, three are in the South East (Hampshire, Kent and Surrey), and the other two are in the East of England region (Essex and Hertfordshire).

Surprise: traffic is DOWN in London

London Congestion Charge

But motor vehicle traffic is up across almost the entire country, with the South West showing the biggest increase since 1993 (39 percent), followed by Scotland and East of England (both up 37 percent).

Only Greater London bucked the trend, with traffic down 4 percent, presumably a symptom of anti-car legislation, expensive parking and the use of public transport.

If you’ve had enough of traffic congestion, we can recommend some terrific roads in Scotland and Wales. Alternatively, check out our list of the quietest A-roads in the country.

May Day mayhem: Motorists braced for cold weather and long delays

traffic congestion uk

Drivers taking to the road over the coming weekend can look forward to congestion and delays, with the RAC predicting the busiest May Day bank holiday since 2016.

Predictably, Friday will be the busiest, with 4.4 million leisure road trips planned – a huge 1.5 million MORE than the same day last year. In total, 13.4 million leisure journeys are expected from Friday to Monday, says the breakdown organisation.

But unlike the Easter weekend, when the country experienced unseasonably warm weather, the nation is braced for a cold snap over the May Day bank holiday, with the RAC encouraging drivers to be prepared for lower temperatures and wintry showers.

‘Motoring mayday’


Motorway traffic jam

RAC Breakdown spokesperson, Rod Dennis, said: “Despite it looking like the weather will take an usually cold turn for the start of May – certainly after the recent Easter heatwave – our figures suggest drivers are still keen to make the most of the long weekend, with significantly more saying they are planning a leisure trip by car this year than in recent years.

“However, there is a risk that drivers will suffer their own ‘motoring mayday’ if they are not careful, since the colder nights we’re about to experience could be enough to cause some older car batteries to finally give up the ghost – seriously disrupting plans for a getaway. Luckily, temperatures will rise during the day and it isn’t due to be a wash-out.

“The advice is again to try to use the roads when they are quieter, which primarily means avoiding Friday afternoon and evening if possible, and setting off earlier on Saturday, especially if travelling any great distance.”

Best times to travel

Traffic-free roads

To avoid delays over the May Day bank holiday weekend, the RAC recommends taking to the road at the following times:

  • Friday 3 May (4.4m leisure trips): before 4pm and after 7pm
  • Saturday 4 May (3.4m leisure trips): before 10am and after 3pm
  • Sunday 5 May (2.5m leisure trips): before 10am and after 3pm
  • Monday 6 May (3.1m leisure trips): before 12pm and after 4pm

To avoid congestion, listen to local radio stations for up-to-date traffic information or use a sat-nav with a traffic setting.

Highways England is lifting roadworks for Easter 2019

roadworks easter 2019

Highways England is working hard to give motorists a Happy Easter by lifting and completing 459 miles of roadworks.

It means that 99 percent of the country’s motorways and major A-roads will be free of roadworks in time for the Easter weekend. “Egg-cellent”, said a motorist. Probably.

Melanie Clarke, Highways England’s customer service director, said: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Easter and that’s why we’re keeping around 99 per cent of the road network we manage, free from roadworks.

“Safety is our top priority and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before setting off over this period.”

Research shows that half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided by carrying out some basic checks. These including ensuring you have enough fuel, checking the tyre pressures, checking the oil and water levels, and checking your headlights.

traffic congestion uk

Before you set off, it’s a good idea to check the Traffic England website for live traffic information, as well as tuning into your local radio station. The various traffic accounts on Twitter are another useful resource when you’re on the move.

Holidaymakers travelling to Wales this Easter are in for an early treat, with the Seven Bridge now toll-free for the first time since 1966.

For everybody else, take comfort in the fact that England’s strategic road network will be free of roadworks from 06:00 Thursday 18 April until 12.01 Tuesday 23 April.

The UK’s busiest roads

traffic a30 cornwall

The removal of the roadworks is unlikely to help the motorists who find themselves on any of the country’s most notorious bottlenecks. The traditional tourist routes are likely to be gridlocked as families make their Easter getaway.

Traffic hotspots include the A303 at Stonehenge, A30 and A38 through Devon and Cornwall, M5 from Bristol to Taunton, A55 North Wales Expressway, M55 between Preston and Blackpool and M53 between Liverpool and Chester.

Congestion is also expected on the M1 from Hertfordshire to Leicestershire, the M25 and the M3 and M4 out of London.

The M5 at Bristol

RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the Easter bank holiday falling so late this year we are expecting to see a double wave of getaway traffic – firstly at the end of this week, and then again two weeks later for the four-day weekend.

“We’re hopeful the weather won’t cause drivers too many issues through this coming weekend, but everyone should be ready for some typical short, sharp April showers, with even the possibility of some snow on higher ground in the north.

“This can be a busy time of year for our patrols so we strongly urge motorists to check over their vehicles before they set out. This is particularly important for people driving long distances.

“Spending just a few moments to check oil, coolant, together with tyre tread depth and pressures, can mean the difference between a long but completed journey and one disrupted by an inconvenient, and perhaps preventable, breakdown that ruins the start of a holiday.”



Manchester traffic delays second only to London


Manchester is second only to London for traffic jams. That’s according to a new league table from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

The NIC examined the ease with which commuters could drive from one area to another in peak times versus off-peak times. The areas with the biggest disparity between the two were considered the most congested.

Liverpool and Birmingham follow in third and fourth behind London and Manchester. Unsurprisingly, the top 25 traffic hot-spots on the table are all urban areas. The highest ranked non-“primary urban area”, at number 26, was a combined area spanning Accrington and Rossendale in Lancashire.

Sir John Armitt, NIC Chairman, said the data demonstrates the need for significant investment in the UK’s urban road networks.

Its plan to amend the situation? Put the power (and money) back in the hands of the local leaders – those that have a better understanding of what their constituents need and can develop their own integrated plans to battle traffic.

A small number of cities will benefit from the Commission’s attention. Any lessons will passed on to other areas.


“From Manchester to Bournemouth our cities are facing gridlock – creating misery for people trying to get from A to B,” said Sir John.

“Trying to tackle this from London won’t work. Our metro mayors and city leaders need to be in the driving seat to develop local solutions.”

The NIC is an independent organisation tasked with advising the government on how the country’s infrastructure needs to evolve. The league table was assembled as part of the five-yearly National Infrastructure Assessment, now calling for an extra £43 billion for urban transport improvements by 2040.

Read more:

London congestion charge scrapped over Christmas - but these areas will be hit by roadworks

London congestion charge scrapped over Christmas – but these areas will be hit by roadworks

London congestion charge scrapped over Christmas - but these areas will be hit by roadworks

Transport for London (TfL) has announced it will be suspending its congestion charge over the festive period – but has warned that some areas will face extra traffic caused by roadworks.

TfL said today that the congestion charge will be suspended from Saturday 24 December until Monday 2 January inclusive. The daily charge (£11.50) will apply again from Tuesday 3 January.

The charge, which normally applies in Central London on weekdays between 7am and 6pm, is traditionally dropped over the Christmas period.

These are the main roadworks being carried out in London over Christmas:

Victoria Embankment: Until the end of the day on Friday 23 December, there will be a westbound lane restriction on Victoria Embankment at the junction of Temple Avenue. This is to facilitate repairs to a gas leak.

Tower Bridge: Until 30 December, Tower Bridge is closed to all traffic while the City of London Corporation carry out major essential maintenance works. Roads in and around the area will be busier than usual. A signed diversion route is in place, via London Bridge northbound and via Southwark Bridge southbound.

A1 Holloway Road: Planned closures of A1 Holloway Road continue until mid-January 2017. This is while work is carried out to replace Upper Holloway Bridge.

Finchley Road: Until 31 December, there are lane restrictions on A41 at Finchley Road at the junction of College Crescent. This is for utility works.

Victoria: Until 27 January, there are lane restrictions on Buckingham Palace Road at the junction of Victoria Street. This is for construction works.

Archway: From 21:00 on Saturday 17 December, the gyratory around Archway Tube station will be removed and switched to two-way traffic. From 05:00 on Sunday 18 December, Highgate Hill will be permanently closed to vehicles and there will be no right turn from St. John’s Way to Archway Road or from Junction Road to Holloway Road.

Central London: From 09:00 until 18:00 on Monday 19 December, roads in the area will be busier than usual, including Great Portland Street, Regent Street, Whitehall and Parliament Square. This is due to demonstrations.

Central London: From 08:00 on Monday 26 December until 06:00 on 3 January, there will be lane restrictions on A501 Euston Road between Edgware Road and King’s Cross. This is for TfL maintenance and utility works.

More information on travelling in London over the Christmas period can be found on TfL’s website.

These are the times you should avoid travelling over half term

These are the times you should avoid travelling over half term

These are the times you should avoid travelling over half term

Half term holidays are on their way for many areas of the UK – with many families hoping to get away on one last break before winter truly arrives.

Car parts supplier Euro Car Parts has surveyed 1,000 parents to find out when most families are hoping to hit the road this half term – revealing the times and dates during which different areas are expected to experience unusually high levels of traffic.

The survey revealed that most parents will be heading away on their holidays on Monday 24th October, closely followed by Saturday 22nd. Euro Car Parts says that areas including Birmingham, Nottingham and Southampton will bear the brunt of the traffic, while tourism hotspots such as the Cotswolds and South West will also be busy.

The roads will be at their most congested at around midday – although the majority of parents say they’d rather get on the road earlier in the day.

On average, most holidaymakers expect to drive around 100 miles during their holiday – increasing to 120 miles for those in Nottingham and Birmingham.

Euro Car Parts’ UK CEO, Martin Gray, said: “It’s clear to see from these figures that there are definitely particular days and times when you should hold off on travelling if you wish to avoid the traffic. However, if you do end up caught in the rush, hopefully our tips for keeping the kids entertained will help!”

These tips include investing in a portable DVD player, or download audiobooks onto your phone to keep little bookworms amused while avoiding travel sickness.

RegionWhen to avoid travelling
Central England12pm – 12:15pm 24th October
South West England12pm – 12:15pm 24th October
Northern England12pm – 12:15pm 22nd October
Northern Ireland12pm – 12:15pm 4th October
Republic of Ireland1pm – 1:15pm 15th October
Scotland12:15pm – 12:30pm 9th October
South East England12pm – 12:15pm 10th October
Wales9am – 9:15am or 12pm – 12:15pm 23rd October