Easter Weekend Cracks Up

AA reveals a nation divided over school term timings

18 March 2008

One in five motorists (19%) in the UK will still hit the roads this Easter weekend, despite forecasts of bad weather and unusual Spring term timings for schools, new research from the AA reveals.

an AA patrol van Six and a half million cars1 are still expected on the nation's highways and byways over the Easter weekend as 41% of schools that would normally break up the Friday before the Easter week will in fact finish a whole week later than usual this year on Maundy Thursday.

There has been widespread confusion over school term dates as the remaining two thirds (59%) of schools will not break for Easter until early April, but the AA is advising motorists not to underestimate traffic levels over the four-day weekend despite the potential decrease in family holiday motorists.

In particular, the UK's largest motoring organisation is expecting Maundy Thursday and Bank Holiday Monday traffic to increase by over 10% this year as over a third of school holiday-ers hit the roads on the eve they break up for Easter. Plus, weekend break drivers are expected to hit the roads early to make the most of the extended public holiday.

Alongside escaping to UK airports, according to AA's Route Planner, key destinations for Easter days out will include popular attractions such as Alton Towers, Longleat, Thorpe Park, Legoland, Drayton Manor and Warwick Castle as well as seaside towns Brighton, Bournemouth and Blackpool and the historic cities of Oxford and Cambridge.

To cope with the extended month-long Easter period this year (20 March – 21 April) the AA is keeping all its patrols on high alert for the entire four weeks, instead of the usual two. In 2007 the AA attended over 35,000 breakdowns over the Easter weekend so motorists should still be prepared for queues and delays as similar numbers are expected this weekend.

Traffic hotspots identified by the UK's largest motoring organisation include:

  • M25 around London, particularly the western side
  • M1 Northbound towards Luton, and through the East Midlands
  • M4 Westbound towards Heathrow
  • M6 through the West Midlands and North of Manchester/Liverpool
  • M5 Northbound in the Midlands towards the M6 and Southbound around Bristol
  • M11 towards Stansted

With roadworks remaining in place on:

  • M1 J6-J10
  • M1 J26-J27
  • M4 J30-J32
  • M27 J3-J4
  • A74 at Scottish Border

Careful Preparation

AA patrol of the year Adam Ashmore AA Patrol of the Year, Adam Ashmore, explains: "Motorists might be under the impression that, due to the very early timing of Easter this year and the fragmentation of school holidays, the roads will be much quieter than usual – but we don't expect this to be the case. This year everyone hitting the road for an Easter break will be setting off at the same time and on similar routes region by region so congestion could potentially be worse than usual.

"We always advise drivers to make careful preparations before setting out on a journey, including finding out about local traffic and weather conditions. Checking your car's coolant and oil levels, battery, tyre tread and pressures can all make for a much smoother, incident-free journey. With less than clement weather predicted this weekend, make sure you check your headlights and windscreen wipers too."

For motorists wanting advice on making key checks before they travel, the AA has created a set of podcasts featuring experienced AA patrols demonstrating simple car care procedures. The AA is advising drivers heading out this weekend to view the 'how to check windscreen wipers' and 'preparing for a journey' podcasts at http://www.theAApodcasts.com.

Notes to Editors

1Calculated as 1 in 5 of the 32 million licensed cars on the road as of 2005 (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1096)

School Holidays

Regions/LEAs on holiday from 20 March to 7 April i.e. over Easter

Cornwall, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Luton, Norwich, Gloucester, Swansea, Cardiff, South West Wales, Worcester, Telford, North Wales, Liverpool, Wirral, Bolton, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Coventry/Tamworth, Leicester, Northampton, Derby, Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Hull, Scarborough, Harrogate, York, Sheffield, Leeds

Regions/LEAs on holiday after Easter from 4 April to 21 April

London Central East, London Central West, London North West, London North, London North East, London South East, London South, London South West, Crawley & Guildford, Brighton, Ashford, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Peterborough, High Wycombe, Berkshire, Oxford, North Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Yeovil, South Devon, Exeter, Barnstaple, Taunton, Bristol, Bath, Swindon

Regions/LEAs on holiday after Easter from 31 March to 14 April

South Essex, North Essex

Regions/LEAs on holiday after Easter from 4 April to 17 April

Lancashire, N.Ireland, Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire, Glasgow, Fife, Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee, Inverness


Newcastle (30 March to 16 April), Aberdeen (27 March to 13 April), Inverness (4 April to 17 April)


18 March 2008