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Eggs-perts warn of Easter weekend traffic ‘carmageddon’

Current estimates suggest over 14 million journeys will be completed as the Easter weekend and school holidays clash

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Don’t go expecting a very ‘Good’ Friday if you’re planning to travel on the roads this weekend as 18 million leisure trips are expected to be made across the UK during the Easter period, with experts forecasting “‘carmageddon’ for holidaymakers”.

There are conflicting views of precisely how busy the roads will become, although the general consensus is that millions will be trying to make the most of the long weekend – especially given that Easter has this year coincided with schools breaking up for Spring.

Visit England reckons 11 million Brits are planning an overnight trip over the next four days, with the RAC and AA predicting as many as 14 million and 18 million individual journeys respectively. Furthermore, data from the RAC and traffic analytics consultancy, INRIX, suggests that over 2.6 million holiday car journeys could be made on Friday alone, with RAC spokesperson, Alice Simpson, warning: “Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays could [spell] ‘carmageddon’ for holidaymakers.”

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Speaking to Auto Express, National Highways’ Senior Network Planner, Frank Bird, advised drivers to “travel and get most of their journeys completed before 11am or then leave it till after 6pm.”

He continued: “As always, we advise motorists to check their route before they travel as the weather later today (Thursday) will be really poor – and the current sunshine will be replaced by cold/windy, wet and squally weather for much of the country.

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“If you are heading to Dover and Eurotunnel, be prepared for some delays and stacking in the harbour – especially as the weather will probably increase cross-channel sailing times.”

When should I travel this Easter weekend?

It’s advised that drivers should – if possible – choose to drive during off-peak times, which typically means early in the morning, or in the evening. The RAC suggests leaving after 7pm on Thursday 28 March, or after 5pm between Friday 29 and Sunday 31 March. On the Easter Bank Holiday Monday, it’s recommended that you leave it as late as 8pm before you set off; this is because many will be planning to leave later themselves as they head home from their trips for work the next day.

What times should I avoid travelling?

The worst times to travel are typically in the middle of the day – anytime from 10am to 3pm. That said, given school break up on Thursday, it’s advised that you steer clear of the roads between 2pm and 7pm as many may be planning to get started on their Easter getaways early.

Which roads will be the busiest?

As many holidaymakers flock to the coast, or many of the UK’s most scenic spots for Easter, the RAC has noted a handful of particular stretches of road to avoid – or at least plan ahead for. The M3 Southbound is expected to experience some of the worst congestion, with the average journey time of an hour likely to be doubled or more – especially on Good Friday. The M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton is expected to see travel times double over the weekend, too, while drivers travelling on the M25 between Gatwick and the M1 for Hertfordshire could also see travel times of over two hours on Thursday evening.

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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