May Bank Holiday hot weather brings worst traffic in years

Families planning to get away for half term face the worst May bank holiday traffic for four years.

Millions of families are set to make the most of the sunny weather, as temperatures are expected to hit 30C (86F) in some parts of the country.

With schools also breaking up on Friday, sixteen and a half million journeys are expected – up one million on last year and the highest number since 2013.

Traffic will be ‘bumper to bumper’ on some of the country’s most popular routes, according to motoring group the RAC, which compiled the analysis.

Christie Smith, 18, Melissa Condie, 18, and Dayna Clark, 18, from Aidrie, on Ayr beach, Ayrshire in Scotland

Christie Smith, 18, Melissa Condie, 18, and Dayna Clark, 18, from Aidrie, on Ayr beach, Ayrshire in Scotland

Christie Smith, 18, Melissa Condie, 18, and Dayna Clark, 18, from Aidrie, on Ayr beach, Ayrshire in Scotland

Cara, 7 and her brother Jackson Lowe, 5, on Ayr beach cooling down as temperatures soared in Scotland

Cara, 7 and her brother Jackson Lowe, 5, on Ayr beach cooling down as temperatures soared in Scotland

Cara, 7 and her brother Jackson Lowe, 5, on Ayr beach cooling down as temperatures soared in Scotland

Friday is expected to most ‘hectic’ as families trying to get away early for the weekend merges with commuter traffic to clog up the roads.

ANTICIPATED TRAFFIC HOTSPOTS ACROSS THE UK 

M5 Almondsbury Interchange and from Bristol to Taunton 

A303 Andover to Ilminster A30 and A38 

Exeter to Cornwall M4 between Cardiff and Swansea 

M25 between Gatwick and M1 A23/M23 to Brighton 

A34 and M3 south and south west to the south coast 

A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth 

A11 Thetford to Norwich 

M55 between Preston and Blackpool 

A14 between the Midlands and the east coast 

A590/A591 between the M6 and the Lake District A66 between M6 and the coast 

M53 between Liverpool and Chester

But leisure traffic is expected to peak on Bank Holiday Monday at nearly five million journeys.

Traffic hotspots are expected to include the A303 between Andover and Ilminster, the A30 and A38 from Exeter to Cornwall, the M4 between Cardiff and Swansea, the M25 between Gatwick and the M1, the M5 between Avonmouth and Taunton and the A23/M23 to Brighton.

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The RAC’s traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘The late Easter has meant there’s been something of a bank holiday bonanza this year, with up to four days off in the space of just six weeks.

‘But that’s not stopping UK drivers from taking to the road for a leisure trip this coming weekend, especially as the weather at the start of the weekend at least is set to be dry, sunny and very warm for much of the country.’

He added: ‘While we’re expecting leisure journeys to reach a peak on bank holiday Monday – families setting off for a half term trip or taking a day trip to the coast – drivers should be warned that the roads are likely to see significant congestion on Friday 26th May as getaway traffic and everyday commuter traffic combines.

‘We’re expecting it to be bumper-to-bumper from Friday lunchtime onwards on some of the country’s most popular routes.’

The RAC urged motorists to do some basic checks on their vehicle before heading off to reduce their chance of breaking down.

These including checking oil and coolant levels, ensuring tyres have plenty of tread and are inflated correctly, and topping-up screenwash.

The Met Office also warned motorists to pack plenty of water and urged them not to forget their sunscreen. 

People enjoying a sunny morning down on Brighton beach where today it could reach the hottest day of the year so far

People sit beside the sea as they enjoy the fine weather on the beach in Lyme Regis in Dorset, where there was clear sunshine all day

People sit beside the sea as they enjoy the fine weather on the beach in Lyme Regis in Dorset, where there was clear sunshine all day

People sit beside the sea as they enjoy the fine weather on the beach in Lyme Regis in Dorset, where there was clear sunshine all day

A hot pooch cools off in a pond found at St James Park in London, where the Met Office regularly records the hottest temperatures of the day

A hot pooch cools off in a pond found at St James Park in London, where the Met Office regularly records the hottest temperatures of the day

A hot pooch cools off in a pond found at St James Park in London, where the Met Office regularly records the hottest temperatures of the day

Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Dan Harris said: ‘We’re expecting lots of warm and sunny weather for the start of the bank holiday weekend with a chance temperatures may top 30C in places.

‘If you’re planning a trip then make sure you plan for the hot weather, don’t forget sun cream as UV levels will be high, and plenty of water.’

He added: ‘By bank holiday Monday, it looks like it will be less hot and cloudier for many with the chance of some rain which could be heavy and thundery at times.’

In a bid to ease congestion, Highways England has announced it is lifting more than 300 miles of roadworks to help people travelling this May bank holiday. 

This means almost 98 per cent of motorways and strategic A roads will be roadworks-free over the bank holiday.

Police horses in London's Green Park take a break from duties to earn a well-earned drink at one of the park's many fountains

Police horses in London's Green Park take a break from duties to earn a well-earned drink at one of the park's many fountains

Police horses in London’s Green Park take a break from duties to earn a well-earned drink at one of the park’s many fountains

Samantha Bumford, aged 24, enjoys the sun and sea in Bournemouth, Dorset, as the UK experiences the warmest temperatures of the year

Samantha Bumford, aged 24, enjoys the sun and sea in Bournemouth, Dorset, as the UK experiences the warmest temperatures of the year

Samantha Bumford, aged 24, enjoys the sun and sea in Bournemouth, Dorset, as the UK experiences the warmest temperatures of the year

Cara, 7 and brother Jackson Lowe, 5, on Ayr beach, Ayrshire, Scotland

Cara, 7 and brother Jackson Lowe, 5, on Ayr beach, Ayrshire, Scotland

Melissa Condie, 18, and pal Dayna Clark, 18

Melissa Condie, 18, and pal Dayna Clark, 18

Cara, 7 and brother Jackson Lowe, 5, on Ayr beach in Ayrshire, Scotland, enjoy the sea and sand, as do Melissa Condie, 18, and pal Dayna Clark, 18

But there will still be 164 miles of road works across the country, including 26 miles on the A1 near Leeming, 20 miles on the M6 near Crewe and 16.25 miles on the M3 near Farnborough and Camberley.

Network Rail is also urging passengers to check their travel plans in advance as it prepares to carry out a major programme of engineering works over the Bank Holiday weekend.

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Work at Seven Kings and between Harold Wood and Shenfield will disrupt travel in and out of Liverpool Street station. There will also be work between Bethnal Green and Forest Gate.

There will be no Southeastern trains between London Charing Cross and London Bridge. Most services will be diverted to start and terminate at London Cannon Street.

There will be reduced services to and from London Paddington and Slough stations.

Work between Carstairs and Edinburgh will see lines closed between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.

Passengers will be delayed by work between Didcot Parkway and Swindon.

There could also be continued disruption in and around Manchester following the terror attack, with Victoria station and roads in the centre of town remaining closed until further notice.

But bosses at the Rail Maritime & Transport union have agreed to suspend train strikes planned for next week in light of the bomb at Manchester.

Staff at Northern rail, Merseyrail and Southern rail were due to walk out for 24 hours from midnight on Tuesday next week as part of a long-running dispute over ‘driver only’ trains, which strip guards of the responsibility for opening and closing the train doors.

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