Spring Bank Holiday

AA predicts busy roads this weekend

An AA van driving in the rain

The unsettled and wet weather forecast for the Spring Bank Holiday weekend will not put off motorists, according to the AA. The UK's largest motoring organisation estimates that 18 million vehicles will hit the road this weekend. Friday will be the busiest day to travel with a third more traffic hotspots nationally, compared to a normal day.* This is the result of the start of the school half-term, and people making the most of the last public holiday until August.

Despite the rain, British seaside resorts will be popular destinations, with Brighton in the top spot, followed by Great Yarmouth and Bournemouth, according to AA Route Planner data.

Friday is also expected to be the busiest day for breakdowns. Last year's Spring Bank Holiday weekend saw the AA attend nearly 57,000 breakdowns, and similar numbers are expected this year.

The AA is reminding motorists to make vital car care checks before they set off, to help prevent unnecessary breakdowns** and to ensure they are prepared for wet weather.

The AA's Patrol of the Year, Adam Ashmore, explains: "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 heavy rain 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.

Bank Holiday Facts

With schools breaking up on Friday and the Spring Bank Holiday being the last Bank Holiday until August, airports and the coast will be seeing high levels of traffic as families head off on holiday or for long weekend breaks.

Top 20 searches on AA Route Planner include:

  • Five airports – Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and Luton
  • Three cross-channel terminals – Portsmouth, Dover and the Channel Tunnel
  • Three seaside resorts – Brighton, Great Yarmouth and Bournemouth

Top 10 seaside resorts

  1. Brighton
  2. Great Yarmouth
  3. Bournemouth
  4. Blackpool
  5. Newquay
  6. Torquay/Paignton
  7. Skegness
  8. Weymouth
  9. Eastbourne
  10. Southend

Congestion hotspots

  • Traffic delays are estimated to be up by 33% on Friday and 25% on Saturday
  • Spring Bank Holiday Monday will be 10% busier than May Day


Roadworks at 44 sites on English motorways and major A-roads will be lifted or completed by 6am on Friday in time for the weekend.

See the Highways Agency website website for more detail.

Top five busy routes nationally:

  • M25 around London
  • M1 Northbound
  • M4 Westbound
  • M6 through the West Midlands and North of Manchester / Liverpool
  • M5 Northbound in the Midlands and Southbound around Bristol

Prepare for rain

The AA is reminding motorists to ensure they are prepared for wet weather:

  • Check your windscreen wipers before setting off, and replace if necessary - a demonstration is available on one of the AA Patrol Podcasts
  • Double the distance you leave between your car and the car in front of you, as stopping distances are increased by wet roads.
  • If steering becomes unresponsive due to the rain, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
  • Only drive through water if you know how deep it is – and drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave.
  • Driving fast through standing water is dangerous – tyres lose contact with the road and you lose steering control – and can cause expensive damage to the engine.
  • It's also inconsiderate – you could face a fine and up to nine penalty points if police think you were driving without reasonable consideration to other road users.

More seasonal driving advice

General breakdown advice

* AA Roadwatch

** Research conducted for the AA reveals that 70% of motorists risk unnecessary breakdowns due to a lack of simple maintenance checks


23 may 2007