August Bank Holiday

Traffic will be busiest this year, says AA

25 August 2009

This weekend is likely to see the busiest traffic this year with congestion expected to rise by a third on average, according to the AA. Delays will be unavoidable in many areas due to families taking late breaks before schools go back combined with the increase in Brits 'staycationing' in the UK as a result of the recession.

An AA/Populus poll of more than 21,000 people reveals that almost a third (31%) say the recession has affected their summer holiday plans: 8 per cent decided not to travel anywhere this summer, a further 8 per cent chose not to travel abroad, while the credit crunch has led to 15 per cent not only holidaying in the UK but staying closer to home too.

People in Yorkshire and Humberside are most likely to be hitting the roads this bank holiday with 23 per cent planning to drive somewhere, while 27 per cent of those in the South will not be going anywhere. Those in Wales and the North-west are most likely to never travel on a bank holiday (20%).

Day trips

Day trips remain the most popular reason for travelling over the bank holiday, accounting for 44 per cent of journeys; a third will have a weekend away; and only 15 per cent will be going on or returning from a longer holiday.

The over-65s are most likely to be taking a holiday with a fifth of those who planned to take a trip saying they will go on a longer holiday; day trips are most popular with 45-54-year-olds with around half (47%) of those who said they'd take a trip going for just a day; while those aged 44 and under prefer a weekend away (42%).

Are we nearly there yet?

Roads to popular coastal and seaside areas will be busy with around a third (32%) of those drivers planning or considering a trip saying they will, or may visit, the sea.

One in four women (24%) who were planning a trip intend to visit family, compared to a fifth (19%) of men, and Londoners are most likely to be travelling for this reason (28% compared to 13% in Northern Ireland). Instead, Northern Irish drivers who are planning a trip are most likely to be found at the coast or beach (43%) and those in the North-west are top at visiting a national park (17%).

Bank holiday traffic

Many families will have opted to head off early, as the bank holiday falls very close to the start of the autumn term for many schools but AA Roadwatch predicts queues to build up on popular routes from mid-morning on Friday.

Stewart Topp, AA patrol of the year, says: "It's going to be very busy on the roads. As well as families heading off before schools go back, there's also a full schedule of music festivals, airshows, sports fixtures and other major events.

"The worst of the traffic will be when people head home on Bank Holiday Monday evening and then return to work on the Tuesday.

"Whether you are heading off on holiday or taking a last-minute day trip, take a few minutes to do the basic checks on your car, as around half of all breakdowns are avoidable – it's a small effort to prevent a potentially big bill."


According to AA Roadwatch, provided by Trafficmaster, the congestion hotspots are expected to be:

  • M25 western sector. Motorists will be heading out onto the M4 and the M3 to travel to the Hampshire and Dorset coast and West Country
  • A31 and M27 from Southampton to Bournemouth and A35 past Dorchester
  • A303 across Salisbury Plain through Wiltshire and down to Somerset and the A30 into Cornwall
  • A3 through Hindhead and A34 from Oxford to Newbury and Winchester
  • M4 from London to the South West and M5 from Gloucester towards South Wales
  • M6 through the West Midlands and into South Lancashire
  • M56 and A55 into North Wales
  • M6 and M55 towards Blackpool and the Lake District
  • M1 through the East Midlands into South Yorkshire and A64 to the Yorkshire coast
  • A14, A11 and A47 to Norfolk and the East Coast

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 landline1.

AA Advice

The AA expects to attend around 280,000 breakdowns a month in August and September, so to make your journey go smoothly, the AA advises:

  • 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

Read more detailed seasonal travel/driving advice »


AA/Populus panel research: 21, 173 AA members interviewed online between 3-10 August 2009.

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

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25 August 2009