Brits are being warned to expect the busiest roads since records began this Easter. No joke. The RAC predicts that UK motorists will collectively take 21.5 million trips between Good Friday and Easter Monday, as people look to enjoy a short getaway in the spring sunshine. The total number of cars on the road is expected to be the highest since records began in 2014. And you thought the traffic couldn't get any worse.
Not surprisingly, Good Friday is expected to be the busiest day, with 4.62 million trips planned in that 24-hour window alone, while a further 7.2 million trips are expected across Saturday and Sunday. Add in the other journeys that holidaymakers will embark on before heading back home and you have that rather ominous grand total. But it needn't all be doom and gloom and stationary traffic jams...
When to leave and what roads to avoid
The RAC is urging motorists to set off before 9am or after 7.30pm, to avoid the Easter rush. The congestion hotspots to be aware of are the M6 north between junction 26 (Greater Manchester) and 36 (the Lake District), the M25 from Junction 8 (Surrey) to Junction 16 (Buckinghamshire) and the A303, near Stonehenge.
Why is it so busy?
There are many factors are at play this Easter, with delays and disruptions on the rail network plus a huge contingent of northern football fans heading down to London for the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley.
RAC traffic spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “After two years of relatively quiet Easter bank holidays on the roads, our research suggests a return to traffic levels that are much more typical of this time of year.
“It’s very possible this weekend could turn out to be one of the busiest for leisure journeys for many years. Add in the impact of disruption on the rail network and one of the biggest fixtures of the sporting calendar taking place this weekend, and you have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads."
Safety advice for long journeys
We strongly advise motorists to check their vehicles are prepared for their Easter getaways. This can simply done by checking tyre pressure, tread depth and their cars' oil and coolant levels. See cinch's guide below on how to do these maintenance checks before you head off, this is especially key for people who haven't done any long-distance driving for several months.
Engine coolants and fluids
The AA estimates that around six million motorists could face repair bills in excess of £1,000 because they don’t check the coolant levels of their car’s engine regularly enough.
Once a week, owners should therefore check the level of the car’s coolant, which not only prevents overheating in the summer, but also freezing in the winter, as well as corrosion in the engine. You should do this check when the engine is cold, making sure that the level is between markers indicating the minimum and maximum levels.
But engine coolant isn’t the only fluid that should be checked regularly in summer. The brake, clutch and power steering fluids in your car also need to be monitored – once a month at least, or before a long trip. Speak to your mechanic to get advice in how to check these on your car.
And even if it doesn’t rain as much in the summer (theoretically, at least), you’ll be cleaning splatted insects off your windscreen, so top up your washer bottle frequently.
Tyres - Air pressure and tread
The air pressure in your tyres is affected by increases in air temperature, so hot weather can lead to their overinflation. This means tyres get worn quicker and a greater strain is placed on any weak areas, so punctures and blowouts are more likely.
The key thing to remember is to check tyre pressures regularly (aim to check them every couple of weeks), especially if the mercury starts rising, and look out for any tread wear and defects in the sidewalls.