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RAC’s at-a-glance guide to potential holiday traffic jams this week

The RAC has published its at-a-glance guide to travel this weekend as it warns of particularly heavy traffic for today and Friday.

A ‘perfect storm’ on the UK’s roads is developing as millions travel by car for staycations

Schools in England and Wales break up for the summer this week and, due to ongoing international travel restrictions, a ‘perfect storm’ on the UK’s roads is developing as millions travel by car for staycations.

And this is due to bring an incredibly busy few weeks on the country’s roads.

A study by the RAC and transport analytics expert Inrix suggests an estimated 11.5 million leisure trips will be made by car between today and the end of the weekend.

Today (21 July) and Friday (23 July) are expected to be the busiest days on the roads during this particular period, with around 2.6 million and 2.3 million leisure trips made by drivers respectively.

As a result, journey times are likely to be severely affected, with Inrix predicting a 29% increase in delays on Friday, compared to typical July travel times.

Data from Inrix also indicates that some of the hotspots for jams will be sections of the M25, the A303 in Wiltshire, the M1 in the East Midlands and the M4 west of Newport in South Wales – in addition to other usual hotspots, such as the M5 through Somerset and Devon and roads leading to other popular destinations like the Lake District and the South Coast.

Separate figures released by the RAC last week indicate the summer of 2021 is likely to bring “unprecedented” traffic levels. Just 7% of UK drivers say they expect to take a holiday elsewhere in Europe this summer, down from 10% who said this when questioned in April – with a third of those still hoping for a foreign trip saying they will holiday in the UK instead if they have to.

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at Inrix, said: “With the possibility of record numbers of people using the roads this summer, drivers – especially around major metro areas – must be prepared for more delays. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic, and our advice is to leave as early in the day as possible and to avoid travelling on Friday afternoon if at all possible.”

Beat the queues: An at-a-glance guide to travel this weekend

Expected worst days for delays over this period is Wednesday 21 and Friday 23 July

Date Leisure trips by car Major roads likely to be particularly busy between Major roads likely to be less busy between Specific roads where delays can be expected (breakdowns or collisions can significantly increase journey times across the road network)
Wednesday 21 July 2.6m 2pm and 6pm After 6pm M25 anticlockwise J17 to J12; M25 anticlockwise J4 to J1
Thursday 22 July 2.0m 2pm and 7pm After 7pm M25 anticlockwise J4 to J1; M25 clockwise J7 to J16
Friday 23 July 2.3m 11am to 7pm After 8pm A303 West Solstice Park to A36; M4 east J29 to J24
Saturday 24 July 2.0m 10am to 4pm After 5pm M25 clockwise J7 to J16; M5 south J15 to J23
Sunday 25 July 1.3m 12pm to 6pm After 7pm M25 clockwise J7 to J16; M25 Anticlockwise J4 to J1; A303 West Solstice Park to A36
Data sources: Inrix and RAC


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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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