Worst times to drive over Easter Bank Holiday and traffic blackspots revealed, as 14m journeys expected

27 March 2024, 13:42 | Updated: 27 March 2024, 14:01

Some 14 million trips are expected over the Easter weekend
Some 14 million trips are expected over the Easter weekend. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Experts have warned of the worst times to drive, and which roads are likely to see the worst traffic, as millions look to get away over Easter.

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Some 2.6 million trips are expected on Good Friday - the busiest day over the Easter weekend, according to the RAC.

Two million drives each are set to take place both on Thursday, the day that schools break up for the long weekend, and Easter Monday.

Easter Saturday and Sunday are likely to see 2.3 million trips each.

One in ten drivers is planning a trip, but doesn't know which day they will drive, accounting for a probable extra 3.3 million cars on the road over the weekend.

Read more: Carmageddon: M25 shuts as traffic chaos looms and locals stockpile food for first-ever daylight closures

Read more: Exact time M25 will shut down for 57 hours as drivers warned to stay away during closures on UK's busiest motorway

Traffic jams are expected over the Easter weekend
Traffic jams are expected over the Easter weekend. Picture: Alamy

When is the worst time to drive over Easter?

Transport analysts at INRIX said that the worst time to drive on Thursday will be between 2pm and 7pm - suggesting people who get away earlier or later will have an easier time on the roads.

On Friday, the worst time to drive will be from 11am-3pm. Any time after 5pm that day is set to see less traffic.

Late morning on Saturday - 10am-12pm - will be the busiest period on the roads, and the time after 5pm will be calmer.

On Sunday, the period from 11am-1pm will have a particularly high level of traffic, and fewer people will be driving after 5pm.

And on Monday, the 10am-12pm period will be the busiest, and people looking for emptier roads are advised to drive after 8pm.

Traffic jams are expected over the weekend
Traffic jams are expected over the weekend. Picture: Alamy

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson said: “With Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays, it could be ‘carmageddon’ for holidaymakers.

"Anyone who can delay leaving on Thursday 28 March until much later in the evening or set off as early as possible on Good Friday is likely to have a better journey than those who travel during the peak periods of the day.

Parts of the M25 will be busy over the Easter weekend
Parts of the M25 will be busy over the Easter weekend. Picture: Getty

Which roads will be busiest over the Easter weekend?

The RAC said that the busiest road on Thursday will probably be the M25 in both directions between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire from 4pm.

Trips on that part of the road are likely to take over two hours, which is over twice the usual time.

The worst traffic jams on Friday could be the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton, and the M3 between the M25 and the south coast.

Journey times are set to double on both roads. On the worst part of the M5, journey times could be one hour and 48 minutes. On the busiest stretch of the M3, journeys could last two hours 18 minutes respectively.

Traffic is expected over the weekend
Traffic is expected over the weekend. Picture: Getty

Gary Hesketh, an RAC patrolman from Exeter, advised drivers: "Leave plenty of time for your journey if you’re using the M5 corridor to Devon and Cornwall as this is notoriously busy in the holidays.

"Check your coolant and oil levels, make sure your tyres are in good condition and remember to check the spare too.

"Services will be extra busy, so bring your packed lunch, and if you do breakdown, remember to reward your friendly RAC patrol with Easter eggs!"

Traffic queued on the M25
Traffic queued on the M25. Picture: Getty

Ms Simpson added: "On every journey there are key pinch points where you can save yourself lots of valuable time if you can get through before everyone else. This will be especially true over the whole Easter holidays as our research shows two-thirds (64%) of drivers will be making a leisure journey on major roads at some point.

"Lengthy queues can be expected along routes to the usual hotspots like the West Country, the Lake District and the south coast, especially during the middle of the day when most people make trips.

"While a good proportion of drivers aren’t yet tying themselves to a date, there may be even more cars on the road than anticipated if the sun decides to make an appearance."

Traffic is expected over the weekend
Traffic is expected over the weekend. Picture: Alamy

Bob Pishue, INRIX transportation analyst, said: "Although travel times will peak on Thursday and Friday afternoons, drivers should be prepared for longer journeys than normal throughout the entire weekend.

"To avoid the longest delays, we advise adjusting departure times so you’re not travelling in peak commuter hours. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic."

Andy Butterfield, Customer Services Director at National Highways said that given that the Easter weekend is the first bank holiday of the year, "we expect the roads to be busy with people looking to make the most of a long weekend."

"We encourage people to plan ahead and prepare their cars in advance for long journeys as this can help reduce the risk of breakdowns.”

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