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Could 2014 be the busiest late Spring Bank Holiday for years?

21st May 2014 Print

This year’s Whitsun Bank Holiday is likely to be one of the busiest on the roads in recent years as it coincides with the start of half term for many families, according to the AA and traffic information specialist Trafficmaster.
As schools in England and Wales take their half-term break during the last week of May, coinciding with the Late Spring Bank Holiday on Monday, 26th May, it traffic is likely to be exceptionally busy on main trunk routes.
Although the weather presents a potentially mixed picture for the bank holiday weekend, the AA estimates that up to 17 million cars could be on Britain’s roads.
Friday 23 May afternoon and evening will see normal commuter traffic mixing with those looking to make an early getaway while on Saturday drivers can expect some serious congestion in many places as main routes struggle to cope as the rush to holiday hotspots gets under way from about 10am until early afternoon.
The AA’s newly-crowned Patrol of the Year, Mark Spowage advises: “Whatever the weather, drivers should be prepared for extra traffic and possible delays on major routes to coastal areas and holiday resorts. Planning your journey and avoiding the main bottlenecks could relieve the frustration of sitting in a traffic jam.”
“Preparing for your journey is important, especially if your car hasn’t undertaken a long trip for a while. Just take ten minutes extra to check the basics – oil and water levels, tyre pressures – check your handbook to see whether you need to increase pressures if you have a heavy load – and top up the windscreen washer.”
Travel hotspots
According to Trafficmaster, the busiest roads are likely to be:

M25: All sections, but especially both ways between Junctions 12 (M3 interchange) and 17 (M40 interchange) around Heathrow Airport and M4 interchange, and also both ways around the Dartford River Crossing (Junction 31-Junction 2)

M1: Between Junction 6A (M25) and Junction 13 (Milton Keynes), also between Junction 25 (Nottingham/Derby) and Junction 31 (M18).

M6 Both ways through the West Midlands between Junction 4A and Junction 11A, then also both ways between Junction 14 (Stafford) and Junction 21A (M62 interchange).

M5: Whole length south-westbound, but especially from M6 interchange to Junction 8 (M50), and from Junction 15 (M4 interchange) to Junction 31 (Exeter).

A303: Westwards from M3 Junction 8 through Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset to A30 at Upottery.

M3: From Junction 2 (M25 interchange) to Junction 6 (Basingstoke) and from Junction 9 (Winchester) to M27 interchange.

M27 and A31: From M27 Junction 4 (M3 interchange) westwards to A31 at Junction 1 then onwards to the Dorset coast.

A11 North-eastwards from Newmarket Bypass through Elveden towards Norwich and the Norfolk coast.

A30 and A38 westwards from Exeter into Cornwall

M4 westwards from Junction 1 (Chiswick) to Junction 13 (Chieveley & Newbury) and also from Junction 20 (M32) to Severn Crossing and South Wales.
Mark Spowage, adds: “The roads are likely to be extremely busy and it could take a lot longer to get to your destination than you expect.
“As the bank holiday coincides with the start of half term; many people will have taken the whole week off and be looking to get away for a break to get their summer off to a great start.
“Break up any journey more than two hours long and, if you’re an AA member, you save up to 20 per cent at Moto service areas.
Take plenty of things to keep the kids entertained – the AA’s website has lots of ideas to keep youngsters amused.
And at the very least, take a fully-charged mobile and atlas or sat-nav in case of any delays.  And members can also download the AA Breakdown App in case the worst does happen.”    
Leisure and sporting events are likely to generate heavy traffic locally over the weekend. Some of these include horse racing at the Goodwood Festival (22-24);  Cricket at the Oval  (England v. Sri Lanka) (25); Golf PGA at Wentworth (22-25); Rugby Union Heineken cup final at Cardiff (24).
Motor racing events include Superbike World Championship Donington Park (23-24); Santa Pod, Bedford (23-26), GT3 Silverstone (24-25); while the Isle of Man TT Races (from 24) will mean heavy bookings on vehicle ferries from Heysham and Liverpool.
Flower, Game and Country shows take place at Highclere (24-25) off the A34 near Newbury; Newby Hall, Ripon (25-26); Shropshire County Show at Shrewsbury (25); and others take place over the weekend at Redbourne, Herefordshire (24-25), Paddock Wood, Kent (25-26) and Stoke Park, Guildford (26) while Chelsea Flower Show ends (on 24).                                                                                                           
Marathon runs take place at Liverpool (25); Edinburgh (24-25) and Flete Coastal Marathon at Mothercombe, Devon (25).
Air and transport shows; Llandudno Air Show (24); D-Day Anniversary Air show Duxford, Cambs (24-25); Cotswold Festival of Steam on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway near Cheltenham (24-26).
Music festivals take place at Melford Hall Suffolk (24-5), Bristol (24-25), Highbridge, Somerset (24-25).