Easter getaway 2011

Traffic and travel predictions

13 April 2011

What to expect this weekend:

The Easter break is expected to be one of the busiest on the roads for several years, as millions take advantage of the quadruple bank holiday period, according to AA Roadwatch and traffic information specialist Trafficmaster.

Despite the weather forecast to turn more seasonal over the coming days, the unprecedented four bank holidays in close proximity combined with the 'long haul' since the Christmas/New Year break (which saw many holiday plans disrupted by the bad weather), will encourage many to take a long break.

  • Busiest Easter on the roads for several years due to quadruple bank holiday: 10 million going away by car over Easter and 8 million over Royal Wedding weekend
  • Combined with leisure traffic/local trips this means more than 18 million cars over the Easter weekend and more than 14 million over the following weekend
  • 85% of people plan to stay in the UK
  • Main 'getaway' traffic to start building from Friday (15/04) with Easter busier than Royal Wedding weekend

Travel plans

Results from the latest* AA/Populus poll show that 85% are planning to stay in the UK during the bank holiday period, helped by the continuing uncertainty over foreign holidays due to the unsettled political situations in North Africa and the Middle East and the threatened airline strike. Our research shows that Easter will be the busier of the two bank holiday weekends, as the schools are still out. Despite the record cost of fuel, a third of drivers – or around 10 million vehicles – plan to go away by car then. Combined with an estimated 8 million day/leisure trips this means there will be more than 18 million cars on the roads over Easter. One-in-four – or around 8 million cars – plan to go away by car over the Royal Wedding weekend. Combined with an estimated 6 million day/leisure trips this means there will be more than 14 million cars on the roads over this weekend.

Main getaway

Although traffic will be very heavy on major routes over the Easter weekend, as Easter falls at the end of the school holiday, it will be more of a staggered getaway.

Roads to airports and ports will be busy too as around one-in-eight (12%) will travel abroad over Easter with slightly fewer (11%) going overseas over Royal Wedding weekend.

Easter bank holiday weekend

A third (33%) are planning to go away by car during the Easter bank holiday weekend:

  • 1-49 miles (7%)
  • 50-99 miles (8%)
  • 100-199 miles (9%)
  • 200-499 miles (7%)
  • 500+ miles (2%)

Drivers in Northern Ireland (44%) are most likely to be hitting the road, followed by those in the East Midlands (37%), while the Scots (61%) are most likely to stay at home this Easter.

56% don't currently plan to go away during this period and 5% are going away but not by car.

85% plan to stay in the UK for the Easter bank holiday.

3% will be travelling abroad by car and 9% planning to go abroad but not by car.

Royal Wedding/Early May bank holiday weekend

A quarter (25%) of respondents plan to go away over the Royal Wedding/Early May bank holiday weekend by car (around 8 million vehicles):

  • 1-49 miles (7%)
  • 50-99 miles (6%)
  • 100-199 miles (6%)
  • 200-499 miles (4%)
  • 500+ miles (2%)

Drivers in Northern Ireland (33%) are again most likely to be hitting the road over the Royal Wedding weekend, followed by those in the North-east (28%), while the Scots (66%) are again most likely to stay at home.

62% don't currently plan to go away during this period; and 5% are going away but will be using other means of transport.

85% will be staying in the UK for the Royal Wedding/Early May bank holiday (same response as for Easter).

2% will be going abroad by car and 9% are planning to go abroad but not by car.

False economy

Previous AA/Populus research has shown that motorists are cutting back on servicing as household budgets tighten and this is having a knock-on effect with MOT failure rates rising around 14% during the recession**.

Paul Leather says: "Easter is often the first long-distance car journey since Christmas, so any underlying problems can soon become apparent. Although money is tight, it's simply not worth putting you and your family at potential risk by having a breakdown, so check your car over thoroughly and get any problems fixed."

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

While many of the main motorways and long-distance trunk roads are likely to be busier than usual, expect very heavy holiday traffic on the following routes to and from:

East Anglia and East Coast

  • A11 around Elveden and Thetford
  • A47 between East Midlands and Norfolk coast
  • M11 to and from Stansted Airport
  • A12 to and from East Coast, especially if weather is abnormally good

North East

  • M1 between East Midlands (J21) and South Yorkshire (J32)
  • A1 and A1M through West and North Yorkshire
  • A64 to Scarborough

North West

  • M6 between West Midlands (J11), Lancashire and Lake District (J36)
  • North Wales: M56 and A55 between Manchester, Chester and along the North Wales coast

Scotland

  • M90, A90 and Forth Road Bridge between Edinburgh, Fife and Tayside
  • A9 between Perth and Inverness
  • A82 between Glasgow, Trossachs and Highlands
  • Roads normally congested during commuter travel times will continue to handle commuter traffic, although much reduced on some days within the holiday period.

Roadworks

Most restrictions for roadworks will be lifted during the Easter, Royal Wedding/Early May bank holiday period but are likely to continue until Maundy Thursday (21 April). Restrictions for major roadworks cannot be removed but will be amended to minimise disruption during the holiday period. This affects:

  • M1 Junctions 10/14 (Luton/Milton Keynes)
  • M25 Junctions 18/21A (Rickmansworth/M1)
  • M25 Junctions 27/30 (M11/A13)
  • A1M Hatfield Tunnel
  • A3 Hindhead
  • M1/M6 interchange
  • A1 through North Yorkshire
  • A80/M80 in Central Scotland

*Source: an AA/Populus online poll of 12,869 AA members conducted between 17-25 March 2011. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

**Source: MOT failure rates for private cars, Dept for Transport, Transport Stats GB

***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. Calls cost up to 65p per minute at all times. Mobile rates vary.