Up to 45 per cent of AA members will likely drive this August bank holiday weekend, averaging 50-60 miles a day. This equates to around 16 million drivers on the roads on what will be a packed weekend of leisure and sporting events, says the AA.
According to traffic information specialist Trafficmaster, some of the highlights include several music festivals - Reading and Leeds, Creamfields in Cheshire, Towersey Festival in Oxfordshire, Greenbelt at Cheltenham Racecourse, CarFest South near Overton, Hampshire, and South West Four on Clapham Common, London - plus a full football fixture list; The Ashes cricket at The Oval, London; rugby league Challenge Cup Final at Wembley; and Notting Hill Carnival among many others.
The latest AA/Populus poll of 23,824 AA members* shows that the Northern Irish (52%) are most likely to drive over the weekend, followed by those in the North-east (51%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (48%).
Those driving will average 62 miles on Friday and bank holiday Monday (23 and 26 August) and around 52 miles on Saturday and Sunday (24 and 25 August). A day trip is the most popular outing (42%); close to a third (30%) plan a weekend away; and around a fifth (18%) will be going on or returning from a longer holiday. The coast/seaside (47%) remains the most popular destination, then visiting family (41%) with more than a fifth (22%) opting for either a National Park or special event.
Trafficmaster expects congestion on holiday routes from mid-afternoon on Friday (23 August). Routes to the South-west are likely to be the busiest and, depending on the weather, heavy traffic may be experienced on routes to the coast.
Next week (27-30 August) commuters will benefit from a quieter week on the roads but traffic will peak again next Sunday (1 September) as people head home.
Tony Rich, AA patrol of the year, says: "While the forecasted unsettled weather may help take the sting out of the traffic, the August bank holiday is still one of the busiest travel periods of the year. There's also a packed schedule of sport, music and other events, which will generate localised congestion, particularly at finish time."
Separately, AA/Populus results** show that many drivers aren't fully prepared for a long car journey in summer. While more than four-fifths (82% rising to 84% in East Midlands and Eastern England) take a fully-charged mobile phone, fewer carry basic items like food and drink (71% rising to 75% in North-west England) and a road atlas (69% rising to 76% in Eastern England).
|Summer driving checklist - gender differences|
|Item||Men (%)||Women (%)|
|Food and drink||68||78|
|Sat-nav or printed route||72||68|
|First aid kit||56||49|
|In-car mobile phone charger||48||37|
|Tyre pump and pressure gauge||43||27|
|Items to keep children entertained||21||24|
|Spare engine oil||18||14|
Tony Rich says: "At the very least, take plenty of drinking water and a charged mobile phone. On busy bank holiday roads, a sat-nav and road atlas will help in case of any unexpected diversions or delays.
"Before heading off, check the travel reports and spend a few minutes doing the basic checks on your car, paying particular attention to tyres, cooling system and operation of the cooling fan."
AA/Populus research summary – August bank holiday 2013
Traffic hotspots and roadworks
According to Trafficmaster, these are likely to be the top five August bank holiday traffic hotspots:
|Road||Section of road|
|A303||Westbound from M3 Junction 8 to A30 at Upottery, Devon|
|M25||Western sector both ways between Junction 21 (M1 interchange) and Junction 10 (A3 interchange); and South-eastern sector both ways between Dartford crossing and Junction 7 (M23)|
|M3/M27/A31||Southbound from Junction 9 (A34) to M27 at Junction 13; and M27/A31 westbound towards the Dorset coast|
|M4||Westbound from Junction 1 (Chiswick) to Junction 13 (Chieveley); and between Junction 18 (Bath) and Junction 20 (Almondsbury Interchange/M5)|
|M5||Westbound from Junction 15 (Almondsbury Interchange/M4) to Junction 31 (Exeter South)|
On Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday (25-26 August), traffic across much of the country is expected to be relatively quiet, unless the weather is exceptionally fine, when coastal routes are likely to be busy with day trippers.
During the late afternoon of Bank Holiday Monday (26 August) and the morning of Tuesday, 27 August, there will be heavier homebound traffic on the main holiday routes. It is expected, however, that the rest of the week (27-30 August) will be much quieter than usual on the roads with comparatively little commuter traffic, as many take advantage of a full week's break.
It is expected that all scheduled roadworks on trunk roads and motorways in England and Wales will be removed or suspended over the Bank Holiday weekend.
In Scotland, it isn't a bank holiday but the Edinburgh Festival runs till 1 September, which causes additional congestion in the capital.
Bank holiday getaway preparation advice
• Plan your route in advance and allow plenty of time for the journey;
• Check local traffic and weather reports – call AA Roadwatch on 84322;
• Travel when the roads are quieter;
• If tired, stop and drink one or two cups of coffee or other caffeinated drink and take a short nap of no more than 15-20 minutes;
• As one of their AA Rewards, personal AA members get up to 20% off food and drink at Moto service areas when they show their membership card;
• Check oil, coolant and windscreen wash levels, cooling fan operation, lights and tyre pressure (check when tyres are cold and increase pressure for heavy loads if necessary) and tread depth – not forgetting the spare and any caravan/trailer – before hitting the road;
• Pack the car safely being careful not to overload or obstruct vision;
• Keep plenty of refreshments on board and plan car games to keep children comfortable and happy throughout the journey.
The AA has produced a handy checklist of basic, year-round car checks using the acronym FLOWER – it can be downloaded or printed from its website:
Traffic information services
Trafficmaster's Live Traffic information service is available by calling 0906 470 1740 from your landline or 1740 from your mobile before you travel or during your journey for live traffic reports.
To help motorists beat the hotspots the number for the AA's traffic and weather information service, AA Roadwatch, is 84322 or enter 'the AA' on your mobile phone keypad or call 0906 88 84322 from a landline (calls cost up to 65p per minute at all times plus network extras).
Source: Populus interviewed 23,824 adults aged 18+ on The AA/Populus online panel between 8-14 August 2013*. Populus interviewed 23,450 adults aged 18+ on The AA/Populus online panel between 11-17 June 2013**. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.