Bank holiday traffic: best and worst times to travel to avoid congestion on UK motorways

More than 16m drivers are expected to hit the roads for the first bank holiday weekend - our video explainer reveals the best and worst times to travel if you want to avoid congestion.

Our video report outlines the hours that are most likely to be quiet for driving on UK roads. Friday will be the worst day for hold-ups, according to the RAC, with delays on major routes expected to take 13% longer than usual.

The busiest route will be the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton on Friday afternoon where travel is expected to take nearly two hours longer than usual. Most major routes across the south and south west are likely to take an average of 50% longer than usual.

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RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson said: “We’re anticipating a ‘crescendo of cars’ on the road over the weekend with as many as 3m motorists making leisure trips on Saturday alone. In addition to the majority of motorists planning day trips and short breaks, our data shows local routes to city and out-of-town shopping centres could see heavy traffic, so it’s best to head out early morning or evening if possible.

Best and worst times to drive this bank holidayBest and worst times to drive this bank holiday
Best and worst times to drive this bank holiday | RAC/INRIX

“For those extending their long weekend breaks into next week, it’s important to plan return journeys in advance as the train strikes between Tuesday 7 and Saturday 11 May will inevitably lead to roads being busier. Industrial action can throw best-laid travel plans into chaos and many commuters who normally rely on the trains instead take to the roads, so our advice is to avoid driving at peak times of day if you can."

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX said: “Although delays won’t be as severe as Easter, drivers should expect the lengthiest hold-ups on major roads to and from popular destinations this weekend. Delays will likely peak on Friday afternoon with some areas seeing usual travel times double as holiday drivers vie for space on the roads with commuters."

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