Summer getaway 2014

The heat is on for drivers as summer getaway rush starts

This week is expected to be one of the busiest on the roads this summer

This week is expected to be one of the busiest on the roads this summer

This week is expected to be one of the busiest on the roads this summer as holiday traffic mixes with additional leisure traffic brought on by the warm weather, reports the AA.

An AA-Populus survey* of 23,085 AA members (conducted before the current warm spell) found that around a quarter (24%) were more likely to holiday in the UK this summer following last year’s hot summer. This was greatest among younger respondents aged 18-24 (31%), the Welsh (27%) and those in North-west England (26%).

More day trips

Financial, as well as weather, considerations also influence people’s plans with a third (33%) saying their budget meant that they are more likely to ‘staycation’ this summer.

 

The research also found half (50%) of members expect to take more day trips/short breaks this summer and more than a third (38%) expect to drive more in the UK between now and end of August.

No place like home

For some, though, there is no place like home with 30% saying they always take their summer holiday in the UK, whatever the weather, particularly those in the West Midlands (39%). Only around a quarter (26%) always go abroad for summer with Londoners (31%), unsurprisingly, most likely to be jetting off.

Dream holiday?

Given the money and opportunity, one fifth (19%) of members said that they would like to try a narrow boat on the canal as their UK summer holiday. This is closely followed by 18 per cent favouring a stay in a historic building or castle. Men prefer the boat on the canal (20% vs 16%) and more women opt for the historic building (20% vs 17%).

A stay in a windmill, lighthouse or other unusual building (12%) and touring in a camper van (12%) were other popular options, the latter particularly among those aged 45-54 (14%), the Scots (19%) and Northern Irish (18%).

Those wishing for camper van fun in the sun are in luck as the AA is currently giving new customers and existing members the chance to win one of three VW California camper vans worth around £45,000 each, as part of its ‘Summer Saviours’ campaign. But while a camper van may be cool, caravans appear to be distinctly less so with only 3 per cent opting for one.

Summer getaway traffic

Traffic information specialist Trafficmaster expected traffic to peak from lunchtime on Friday (25/7) and between 10:00-16:00 over the weekend on the holiday routes.

Routes to coastal areas and South-west England are likely to be the busiest and congestion is also expected around the cross-channel ports and major airports.

Top five congestion hotspots according to Trafficmaster

  • A303 - From M3 through Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset
  • M5 - Almondsbury (M4) to Exeter (J31)
  • M3/M27/A31 - Winchester (J9) to Dorset coast
  • M6 - Between Junction 11A (M6 Toll), through Staffordshire and Cheshire into Lancashire
  • M25 Western Sector - Between M1 interchange (Junction 21) and M3 interchange (Junction 12)

Over the school holidays Trafficmaster expects that regular commuter traffic will be substantially quieter but daytime leisure traffic will increase, particularly if the good weather continues.

If you can, try to avoid travelling at peak times and use your car radio’s TA or traffic announcement function to keep ahead of the jams

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year

Try to avoid peak times

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, says: “While many children will be relishing the prospect of ice cream on the beach, some parents may be somewhat daunted at the thought of being stuck in traffic in such warm conditions.

“If you can, try to avoid travelling at peak times and use your car radio’s TA or traffic announcement function to keep ahead of the jams. Take a sat-nav and road atlas in case of any unexpected diversions or delays and make sure your car has plenty of fuel, so if you do get stuck, you can at least keep the air-conditioning on.

“If you’re travelling with children, take plenty of things to keep them entertained and see if you can spot one of our ‘flower power’ AA vans** to be in with a chance of winning a prize.

“These warm conditions are quite draining, so carry plenty of water for everyone – not forgetting pets – and stop regularly, at least every three hours. If you’re an AA member, you save up to 20 per cent and get special deals*** at Moto service areas.”

It’s much better to discover a car problem at home, rather than in the outside lane of a motorway when the engine overheats

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year

Breakdown prevention

Since the warm weather arrived, the AA has seen overheating-related call-outs jump 22 per cent and looks set to exceed the 830,000 breakdowns it attended last summer. The UK’s biggest breakdown provider will have extra patrols on duty and has temporarily relocated some to South-west England.

Mark Spowage says: “In this hot spell, most drivers will have seen cars stuck at the roadside with bonnets open. It’s not that they aren’t designed to cope – great effort and cost goes into their design – it’s usually down to driver neglect.

“When it’s hot enough to soften roads, any underlying issues can be quickly exposed, so do the basic checks before departing including the coolant level and operation of the cooling fan.

“It’s much better to discover a car problem at home, rather than in the outside lane of a motorway when the engine overheats.

“While summer driving can be stressful, we are here to help. Drivers who purchase AA breakdown cover can have the three months of summer on us – 15 months’ membership for the price of 12.”


(24 July 2014)

* Source: Populus interviewed 23,085 adults aged 18+ on The AA-Populus online panel between 7-15 May 2014. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

** Anyone who spots one of the vans out and about and tweets @TheAA_UK using #AAhippyvan with the location and time they saw the van will be entered into a draw to win a £50 Amazon voucher. People can also enter by re-tweeting #AAhippyvan tweets sent from @TheAA_UK and @AAPresident.

*** AA members save up to 20% on all food and drink at Moto service areas (10% at Moto M&S Simply Food). Until 30 September, AA members can enjoy a half-price family meal at Moto services stations throughout the UK.