Easter travel advice 2016

11 million cars expected as 55% plan leisure trips

upwards of 11 million cars will take to the road at some stage this Easter

upwards of 11 million cars will take to the road at some stage this Easter

With Easter falling in March this year, AA research shows that traffic may be up on last year. Up to 55% of the UK’s drivers will make a trip or go on an outing during the bank holiday – compared to 47% last Easter.

With nearly 20 million car-owning households in the UK, upwards of 11 million cars will take to the road at some stage this Easter.

  • Easter on the roads expected to be busier than last year     
  • Getaway traffic to peak on Thursday (24 March)

The latest AA-Populus poll of 24,070 AA members (surveyed 8-15 March 2016) revealed that 55% of respondents plan to drive somewhere on holiday or an outing on Maundy Thursday (24 March), falling to 50% on the Good Friday (25 March). The Saturday will also be busy with 53% intending to take the car out.

Where to?

Visiting family or friends is the most popular reason for travelling (47% overall, 44% men vs 52% women), particularly for those in the South East and London (both 52%). 

A trip to a town or city is popular with a quarter (24%), particularly in the West Midlands and Scotland (both 26%); and slightly fewer will look to escape to the countryside (22%).

Those in Eastern England are the most green-fingered with a fifth (21%) visiting a garden centre, compared to the national average (18%); and those in the North East particularly likely to indulge in some retail therapy (23% v national average of 18%). A weekend break or holiday in the UK is most popular among Londoners (14%) against a national average of 10%.

Traffic hotspots

Getaway traffic is expected to peak this Thursday (24 march)

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
  • 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)

Although Easter Sunday (27 March) is usually one of the quietest days on the roads,  Easter Monday (28 March) will also be quiet. However, homebound travellers should expect traffic to pick up from lunchtime onwards.

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

Max Holdstock, AA patrol of the year

Getaway advice

Max Holdstock, AA patrol of the year, says: “Despite a more chilly Easter coming up, we expect more people to head out on the road. 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 underlying mechanical problems that didn’t manifest themselves during short winter trips. 

“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.”

More patrols

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

AA members have access to the AA App on smartphone, providing information on fuel prices, cost of parking and traffic levels wherever they are or intend to go.


(22 March 2016)