Easter Getaway

Travel advice from the AA

25 March 2010

Plan your route in advance this Easter to avoid known traffic hotspots

Popular routes will be busy but weather will determine plans for many

  • More than half (56%) of UK motorists are likely to take to the roads this Easter
  • 44% of those driving are planning day trips
  • Routes to airports are expected to see heavy traffic as 39% of those not driving are planning to go abroad

The AA is expecting roads to be busier than normal this Easter with around 17 million cars on the move over the break, as people put the gloom of the economy and a harsh winter behind them.

With 43 per cent of those likely to hit the road planning a weekend break or longer* , and the majority of schools finishing on 31 March, Maundy Thursday (1 April) is likely to be the busiest day with traffic building up from lunchtime on popular routes but the extent of the congestion will be weather-dependent.

AA/Populus Survey

Results from the latest AA/Populus poll of more than 17,000 AA members show that:

  • More than a quarter of motorists (27%) plan to drive somewhere for Easter with a further 29 per cent unsure of their plans but likely to drive to their destination.
  • Drivers in Northern Ireland (65%) are most likely to hit the road, followed by those in the West Midlands (61%), while those in Eastern England (32%) are least likely to be travelling at all this Easter.
  • A day trip (44%) and weekend away in the UK (31%) are the most popular reasons for driving over Easter with those in Yorkshire and Humberside most likely to take a day trip and the Scots preferring a weekend away.
  • Of those not driving over Easter, more than a third (39%) will be going on or returning from a trip abroad.

Breakdown advice

it really does pay to spend a few minutes checking your car
Last year, the AA attended more than 50,000 breakdowns over the Easter period, and is gearing up for another busy period with extra patrols on duty, as many people make their first long-distance car journey of the year.

Stewart Topp, AA patrol of the year, says: "It's very tempting just to jump in the car and head off but it really does pay to spend a few minutes checking your car and making sure you have everything you need for the journey. This is especially important after the long winter we've had, as a long journey in a car packed to the gunnels could expose any problems."

To help motorists beat the hotspots the number for the AA's traffic and travel advice line, AA Roadwatch, is 84322 or enter 'the AA' on your mobile phone keypad or call 0906 88 84322 from a landline**.

Traffic hotspots

According to AA Roadwatch, provided by Trafficmaster, the Easter traffic hotspots are expected to be (in order of severity):


Restrictions for the major widening work between Junctions 16 and 19 will remain in place, but set to minimise delay. There are expected to be delays in both directions into and through this section throughout most of the day, tailbacks are expected to stretch over most of the Western Sector (J10-21A) of the motorway.

Similarly, the restrictions for widening work between Junctions 27 and 30 will be set to minimise delay, but delays are expected in both directions during the morning peak and from lunchtime onwards.


Restrictions for widening work between Junctions 10 and 13, and also between Junctions 26 and 29 are likely to be set to minimise delays over the holiday period, but there is likely to be slow traffic in both sections during the morning peak, then northbound from about 15.00 onwards. In the afternoon, it is expected that both sections may lead to growing tailbacks on the northbound carriageway.


Road work restrictions are likely to be lifted for the holiday period, but very slow traffic is anticipated southbound from Junction 12 (Gailey) into the West Midlands to the M5 interchange from 11.00 onwards.

There is also expected to be slow traffic southbound from the West Midlands towards the M1 interchange from early afternoon onwards, and through Cheshire and Staffordshire from Junction 19 from mid afternoon onwards.

Northbound, the road is likely to be slow through the West Midlands from lunchtime onwards, extending through Staffordshire and Cheshire from early afternoon onwards.

Further north, the afternoon and evening will see heavy traffic in Lancashire, past Preston, towards the M55 for Blackpool, and towards the Lake District.


There is likely to be slow traffic from early afternoon onwards from Almondsbury interchange (Junction 15) westwards into Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, which will continue into the evening.

There is also likely to be slow traffic southbound at intervals along the whole section from the West Midlands (M6 interchange) to the Almondsbury interchange (Junction 15) throughout the afternoon.

Finally, expect slow traffic northbound towards the M6 interchange in the West Midlands for much of the day.


The usual morning and evening peak delays between Chiswick and the Reading area (Junctions 1/12) will be supplemented by slow traffic throughout the day around the M25 interchange at Junction 4B, and westbound from mid afternoon onwards.

Further west, there are likely to be delays from mid afternoon westbound around Junctions 19 (M32 interchange for Bristol) and Junction 20 (Almondsbury interchange for M5).


The usual morning and evening peak delays between M25 at Junction 2 and Junction 4A will be accompanied by westbound delays from mid afternoon onwards.

Further south, expect delays in late afternoon from Junction 9 (Winchester) southwards to M27 at Junction 14.


Expect delays from lunchtime onwards from the M3 interchange westwards to Junction 1 and onwards along A31 into Dorset.


Delays westbound are likely to start from 10.00 onwards past Stonehenge, and extending westwards, usually on those sections of the road still single carriageway, towards the West Country.


Slow westbound through Devon and Cornwall from mid afternoon onwards, especially with caravan traffic.


Traffic is likely to be heavy coast bound throughout the day, but especially south of Ashford (Junction 10), where British holiday traffic mixing with European HGVs returning home for the holiday weekend may result in delays on ferry services and Eurotunnel.

Bad weather in the English Channel would further aggravate this situation.


Traffic is likely to be slow coast bound through Hindhead from mid-morning onwards, with London-bound traffic likely to be delayed at the same location throughout much of the day.


Traffic around Oxford is likely to be slow and heavy in both directions at intervals throughout the day, also around Chieveley (M4 interchange) and the Newbury Bypass, and southbound towards M3 Junction 9 at Winchester in late afternoon.


Traffic around M60 is likely to be slow on all sections throughout the afternoon and evening, and especially both ways along the northern section between Junction 12 and Junction 17.

On M62, afternoon and early evening delays can be expected from M60 at Junction 10 westbound towards M6 at Junction 10.

Further east, expect delays both ways on M62 between M606 interchange at Junction 25 and the A1 at Ferrybridge during the early evening.


Expect delays in late afternoon westbound from South Lancashire into North Wales.


Eastbound traffic likely to be heavy from Midlands towards the Norfolk coast from late morning onwards – slow moving but rarely at a standstill apart from incidents.


Eastbound traffic likely to be heavy from late morning onwards towards the Yorkshire coast – slow moving but rarely at a standstill apart from incidents.


Traffic likely to be heavy for much of the day along the whole length of the road, but especially on A1M around the Hatfield Tunnel road works, and from lunchtime onwards through North Yorkshire.


There is likely to be slow traffic from lunchtime onwards on:

  • M8 through Glasgow
  • A80 and M80 between Glasgow, Cumbernauld and M876 interchange
  • A82 from Clydebank towards the Trossachs
  • On the Forth Road Bridge and approaches
  • M77 and A77 towards the Ayrshire coast

Preparing for a journey

AA advice on how to prepare for the Easter getaway:

  • Plan your route in advance
  • Check local traffic and weather reports – call AA Roadwatch on 84322
  • Travel when the roads are quieter
  • Allow plenty of time for the journey
  • 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

Join the discussion in the AA zone

* AA/Populus panel research: 17,480 AA members interviewed online between 15-22 March 2010

** Calls to AA Roadwatch cost up to 65p per minute. Calls should not last longer than 90 seconds.


25 March 2010