Easter 2015 travel advice

One of the busiest on the roads in recent years

Easter 2015 is likely to be one of the busiest on the roads in recent years

Easter 2015 is likely to be one of the busiest on the roads in recent years

With Easter falling early this year and a longer wait until the summer, it is likely to be one of the busiest on the roads in recent years.

Getaway traffic is expected to peak this Thursday (2 April), which the AA predicts is likely to be the busiest day on the roads so far this year.

The latest AA-Populus poll of 16,194 AA members* revealed that close to half (47%) of respondents plan to drive somewhere on holiday or a driving outing on Maundy Thursday (2 April) and more than two-fifths (44%) on Good Friday (3 April).

  • Busy Easter on the roads with around half making leisure trips by car
  • Getaway traffic to peak on Thursday (2 April)   Approx. 15m hitting road for holiday or outing
  • Routes to the South-west likely to see heaviest traffic

Those planning a leisure trip by car will cover an average of around 40 miles on Thursday with Londoners clocking up the biggest distance (45 miles), followed by those in Yorkshire and Humberside (43 miles) and East Midlands (42 miles); while those in South-east England will cover the least (38 miles).

Why travel?

Visiting family or friends is the most common activity (45% men vs 53% women), particularly for those in South-east England (55%) and London (53%).

A trip to a town or city is popular with a quarter (24%), particularly in the West Midlands (27%); and a similar number will look to escape to the countryside (23%).

Those in Eastern England are the most green-fingered with a fifth (20%) visiting a garden centre, compared to the national average (17%); and those in Wales, Eastern England and South-west England (all 19%) most likely to indulge in some retail therapy.

A weekend break or holiday in the UK is most popular in Northern Ireland (16%) and Yorkshire and Humberside (15%).

The Highways Agency will lift more than 500 miles of roadworks across England over Easter – 206 sets of roadworks – to help the traffic flow.

Traffic hotspots

The top five busiest stretches are likely to be:

  • A303 - Westbound from M3/J8 through Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset
  • M1 - From Junction 6A (M25 interchange) to Junction 13; and from Junction 23A to Junction 32 (M18)
  • M5 - From Junction 15 (Almondsbury) towards Junction 31 (Exeter for West Country)
  • M6 - Through West Midlands (from Junction 4A) and northwards towards Lancashire (Junction 21A)
  • M25 - All sections, especially both ways around J14/17 (Heathrow Airport and M4, M40 interchanges)

Easter Sunday (5 April) is generally one of the quietest days on the roads; and Easter Monday (6 April) will see homebound traffic from lunchtime onwards.

Over the Easter period, the AA will have a fifth more patrols than normal on duty to deal with the higher breakdown workload.

Do the essential checks on your car before heading off, paying particular attention to the tyres and adjusting the pressures for a heavy load, if required

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year

Getaway advice

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, says: “Despite a rather unsettled forecast, we expect more people to get away this Easter, as it falls quite early this year. There will be a lot of pressure on the main getaway routes, particularly heading down to South-west England; and the likes of the M25, M1 and M6 are also going to be very busy.

“With around half planning to visit friends and family, there will be many people racking up quite large distances. For some, it will be their first long-distance car journey of the year, which can reveal any underlying mechanical problems.

“Do the essential checks on your car before heading off, paying particular attention to the tyres and adjusting the pressures for a heavy load, if required.

“Break up any journey more than three hours long and, if you’re an AA member, you save up to 20 per cent at Moto service areas. Take plenty of things to keep the kids entertained and, at the very least, a fully-charged mobile and atlas or sat-nav in case of any delays.”

Where are you going?

Where people are likely to be driving to over Easter weekend:

  • Friends or relatives for the day (48%)
  • Town or city (24%)
  • Countryside eg. national park (23%)
  • Garden centre (17%)
  • Out of town superstore or shopping centre (17%)
  • Place of interest inland eg. historic building (13%)
  • Going to or from a weekend break or holiday in the UK (13%)
  • DIY store (11%)
  • Sporting event (8%)
  • Cultural event (3%)
  • Theme park (2%)
  • Other (24%)
  • Don’t know (3%)

(30 March 2015)

* Source: Populus interviewed 16,194 adults aged 18+ on The AA-Populus online panel between 18-24 March 2015. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.