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Wednesday, 8 April

Bank Holiday - Chaos Travel Guide

The perfect storm of a bank holiday and widely-anticipated warm weather looks set to produce the the August Bank Holiday from hell for travellers looking for a little sun to compensate for all the rain.

Airports and other routes out of the country could become testing temper zones as families flee for the last full week before the schools go back with as security and EU rules causing long queues - already this week lots of people have called in to radio stations to complain they've missed their flights.

Train stations could be chocabloc with maintenance causing delays. Train journey times out of Waterloo (to Dorset and the Isle of Wight), where August platform extensions have caused havoc this month anyway, have already seen people trying to travel as late as possible to avoid standing all the way - a strategy likely to fail across the network as so many do anything for a break.   


Roads to hell

Data from RAC Traffic Watch suggests at least 16.5 million leisure journeys will be made by car – a million more than last year.

These roads are likely to be the busiest traffic hotspots:

M5 – particularly the Almondsbury Interchange, and from Bristol to Taunton.

A303 – the route from Andover to Illminster.

A30 and A38 – between Exeter to Cornwall.

M4 – between Cardiff and Swansea.

M25 – between Gatwick and M1.

A23/M23 – on the way to Brighton.

A34 and M3 – south and south west to the coast.

A47 – the route from Swaffham to Great Yarmouth.

A11 – between Thetford and Norwich.

M55 – the route between Preston and Blackpool.

A14 – between the Midlands and the east coast.

A590/A591 – between the M6 and the Lake District.

A66 – particularly between the M6 and the coast.

M53 – between Liverpool and Chester.

RAC Route Planner may be able to find a way around the blackspots.


Busiest days to travel day and predicted road users

Thursday 24th August 2.5 million

Friday 24th August  3.1 million

Saturday 25th August 4.4 million

Sunday 26th August 3.4 million

Monday 27th August 5 million

Total 18.4 million


RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said:  “While summer appears to have taken a leave of absence for many of us, our figures suggest drivers are undeterred and are still keen to make the most of the long weekend to spend time with friends and family in the UK.

“We recommend motorists wanting to beat the queues travel outside peak times – so avoid Friday afternoon and evening if you can and try to get away in good time if you are planning a day trip on Monday or face a long journey home at the end of a summer holiday.

“It only takes a single breakdown on a congested road to cause real disruption, so we also advise drivers to complete some quick, basic checks that can reduce the chances of their vehicle being the culprit.

"Make sure your tyres are in good condition and are properly inflated and check your oil, coolant and screenwash are all at the right levels. Don’t forget to fully charge a few mobile phones before you set out too so you can reach help should you need it.

“And remember your passengers – long car journeys can be testing for young children especially so take water and snacks for them, plan some in-car entertainment and schedule plenty of breaks.”


Here's a quick summary from the video below:

  • Check oil and coolant levels following the instructions in the owner's handbook.
  • Check the condition of the tyres, (including the spare, if you have one) for correct pressures and legal tread depth. The current minimum legal tread depth for cars and light commercial vehicles (up to 3500 kg gvw') is 1.6mm.
  • Make sure the jack and wheel brace are in correct working order. If locking wheel nuts are fitted, ensure the locking key is stored safely in the vehicle. It may be useful to practice changing the spare wheel, following instructions from your owner's handbook.
  • Have the cooling system checked. A puddle of clear water underneath when stopped is normal for vehicles with air conditioning, but a leaking cooling system or inoperative cooling fan could cause the vehicle to overheat and cause extensive damage to the engine.
  • If you plan to take a caravan or trailer, check the tyre condition and make sure the lights are working - read our complete guide on towing first.
  • Check all the exterior lights and dashboard warning lights are working correctly, including on a trailer or caravan.
  • Never overload your vehicle or caravan beyond their designed carrying capacity.
  • Have your car serviced regularly. Although this sounds obvious, many people don’t and it really does help to prevent future car problems.  Especially before long journeys, or journeys where you’re likely to get stuck in traffic.  This is important and can help avoid a breakdown.
  • Check all wiper blades for wear or splitting, check the windscreen washer fluid level and check that the washer jets are adjusted correctly.

Picture: Forward this article to your team and the staff they look after - they might all choose to stay at home and make it in to work next week in a better frame of mind

Below - Essential car checks video

Article written by Cathryn Ellis


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