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Late May bank holiday to bring pre-COVID levels of traffic chaos

The RAC believes as many as 20 million trips will be made by car in the UK over the course of four days

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It’s almost time for the second of May’s bank holidays, and the warm weather is set to bring a heightened level of traffic to UK roads, the like of which has not been seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Estimates from the RAC suggest as many as 20 million journeys will be made by car over the bank holiday weekend, which is roughly equivalent to 90 per cent of what would usually be expected pre-pandemic.

The RAC reckons the worst day and time to travel will be on Friday (24 May) morning, as many will probably be looking to make the most of the entire weekend; the RAC says the best time to travel will instead be in the evening, after 6pm. Given that the long weekend also coincides with the start of half-term for schools, it’s estimated that over 4 million journeys will take place on this day alone.

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Those not able to make the trip on Friday should instead aim to leave as early as possible as it’s thought that traffic will culminate on Saturday (25 May) between 3pm and 6pm. Sunday (26 May) and Monday (27 May) are also expected to be very busy, with the RAC’s advice being to avoid popular holiday routes such as the M5 Southbound at peak times to avoid long delays.

It’s also worth noting that the RAC warns that next Friday (31 May) will also be plagued by high levels of traffic, as it marks the end of the school holidays. The M25 is expected to witness the worst level of congestion, with the time taken to travel between the M23 (Junction 7) and the M1 (Junction 21) “likely to nearly triple in duration to three hours”.

Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst for the RAC’s data partner, INRIX, explained that “drivers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major cities and towards the coasts”.

He continued, saying: “The best general advice to anyone spending time away from home this weekend is to travel as early or as late in the day as possible to avoid the worst delays.”

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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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