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Easter weekend traffic levels lowest since 2014, says RAC

Drivers are planning 5.6m trips by car to see friends and family this Easter, the lowest number since the RAC began tracking motorists plans in 2014, new figures suggest.

The RAC Breakdown survey of 1,200 drivers showed that despite the easing of the national lockdown this week (March 29), when the two household and ‘rule of 6’ regulations came into force, people remain cautious about meeting up over Easter, with 25% saying they are not planning a trip due to the pandemic.

Of those who will be driving to see family and friends outdoors, Good Friday looks to be the most popular day with the equivalent of 2m separate journeys taking place, followed by Saturday and Easter Sunday (1.3m per day).

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis, said: “What is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for leisure trips in normal times could turn out to be anything but in 2021, with the pandemic continuing to have a big impact on drivers’ plans to see friends and family this Easter. The fact that meetings among family members or friends must be outdoors is very clearly on drivers’ minds.

“Nonetheless, it’s unlikely the roads will be empty of traffic over Easter, and if the weather turns out to be good more people will inevitably jump in their cars for a trip at short notice, even if that’s just among members of the same household. And of course, just a single breakdown or collision on a major road could then lead to some jams.”

The figures also show there is a prospect of a ‘late Easter surge’ with a rise in trips being taken during the second week of the school holidays, peaking on April 12 – the earliest day that restrictions may be eased further and could see the re-opening of self-catered holiday accommodation, as well as outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks.

Between April 9 and April 11 drivers are planning 5.3m separate leisure journeys, rising to 2.3m alone on the Monday before tailing off during the remainder of the week.

Dennis said: “Looking forward, we’re expecting to see greater numbers of people on the roads the weekend after Easter.

"Drivers have clearly got their eyes on April 12 which is the earliest date when lockdown restrictions could be eased further, and could be the day zoos, theme parks and other attractions reopen along with non-essential retail outlets and some self-catering holiday accommodation.

“If the day does get confirmed by the Government, and it coincides with fine weather, there’s every chance we could see a real ‘rush’ on the roads in some parts of the country.”

If traffic does increase, data from INRIX suggests that some of the busiest roads could be the A303 near Stonehenge, the A3 and A205 in south London, the A66 near Keswick and the M5 in north Somerset, the RAC says.

Drivers planned Easter leisure trips by car since 2014

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021
Planned trips 8.7m 16.3 18.3 12.8m 12.4m 12.2m


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