Summer Holiday Getaway

Busiest Friday for traffic this year

22 July 2010

  • Busy weekend for traffic but staggered departure to mitigate worst bottlenecks
  • 47% of Brits less likely to holiday abroad due to economy
  • Routes to South-west likely to be busiest

This Friday (23 July) is likely to be the busiest of the year so far for traffic, as the majority of schools in England break up for the summer and more families choose to 'staycation' in the UK, according to AA Roadwatch.

Congestion is likely to build up from lunchtime on Friday as getaway traffic mixes with commuter traffic on popular routes and the weekend will also be busier than usual as families stagger their departures.


AA/Populus research* has shown that the economic climate has made AA members less likely to holiday abroad (47%), so this summer will again see more Brits staying closer to home.

Those least likely to be digging out their passports are the Northern Irish (56%) followed by those in the South-west and Wales (both 49%). Those in the West Midlands (45%) are least likely to let the economy affect their travel plans.

Busiest routes

In total, around 14 million cars are expected on the roads with routes to the South-west likely to be the busiest and congestion is also expected on main routes to the coast, cross-channel ports and major airports.


Drivers planning to travel southbound on the M6 should be aware that it will be closed overnight from junctions 11 (Cannock, Wolverhampton) to 7 (Great Barr interchange) on Friday night (10pm till 8am) and again on Saturday night (8pm till 10am) – two of the busiest nights of the year on one of the busiest sections of motorway in the country.

Paul Leather, AA patrol of the year, says: "You really will have an easier journey if you can avoid travelling at peak times, which is particularly welcome if you have children on board. Carry plenty of drinking water, food and things to keep them entertained."

Doing the basics

In queuing traffic, cars can quickly overheat, so the drivers are advised to do the basic checks (refer to the vehicle handbook for specific advice) before departing, paying particular attention to the cooling system and operation of the cooling fan. The acronym FLOWER is a useful reminder:

Fuel, Lights, Oil, Water, Electrics, and Rubber

Download and print our Flower Power, basic car checks leaflet and keep it in the car to help you remember what to check.

  • Fuel: keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel, in case of unexpected delays
  • Lights: clean and check for blown bulbs and cracked lenses
  • Oil: cars can consume as much as a litre of oil every 1,000 miles, so check the level when the engine is cold
  • Water: check coolant and windscreen wash levels, topping up as required
  • Electrics: make sure that your electric radiator cooling fan starts running when the engine gets hot – check this by running the engine with the car stationary
  • Rubber: check tyre tread and pressures and increase pressure if carrying full load; inspect wiper blades for any damage and replace if necessary

Read seasonal driving advice »

Breakdown advice

The AA attended around 34,000 breakdowns last year when most of the schools in England broke up for summer and will have extra patrols on duty across the country this weekend.

If drivers have the misfortune of breaking down on the motorway, it is imperative that safety advice is followed.

Read more breakdown advice »

Preparing to travel

  • Plan your route in advance and allow plenty of time for the journey
  • Check local traffic and weather reports – call AA Roadwatch on 84322**
  • Travel when the roads are quieter
  • If tired, stop and drink one or two cups of coffee or other caffeinated drink and take a short nap of no more than 15-20 minutes
  • As one of their member benefits, personal AA members get 20% off food and drink at Moto service areas when they show their membership card
  • 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


22 July 2010

* 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.