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Spring Bank Holiday traffic warning as drivers return to roads

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The forthcoming Spring Bank Holiday weekend will see an estimated 10.8m leisure trips taken by car, new RAC research of drivers’ plans suggests.

The figures indicate drivers have firm plans to take around 7.2m trips to see friends and family between Friday and bank holiday Monday – with Saturday and the bank holiday itself busiest at 2m separate journeys each day.

An extra 3.6m journeys are due to be taken at some point over the weekend by motorists who have not yet decided on which days they will be on the roads.

The RAC survey of 1,100 drivers suggests the weather is set to play a pivotal role in how much traffic congestion there is.

The research also shows the effect the reduction in Covid cases is having on motorists’ increasing confidence to drive longer distances to see friends and family.

Only one-in-10 drivers (11%) aren’t planning leisure trips next weekend due to the pandemic, compared to 18% over the Early May Bank Holiday and 25% over Easter.

RAC patrol Ben Aldous said: “With Covid restrictions gradually lifting and some better weather on the horizon at last, we’re anticipating large numbers of drivers to be venturing out and about over the bank holiday weekend.

“The fact only one-in-10 said they weren’t planning a trip because of the virus, down from a quarter over Easter, shows people now have more confidence to drive to see friends and family safely.

“Our research points to Saturday and Monday being the busiest days, but, there’s a good chance the weather will have the final say as to how busy the roads get.

"A return to more typical late May temperatures and an end to the recent wind and rain could spark a sudden surge in journeys and mean some routes – especially those to the coasts and hills – start to clog up.”

However, despite the RAC research suggesting an increased confidence among motorists returning to the roads, separate research from Nextbase has revealed that 46% of motorists in the UK are nervous about returning to the roads this bank holiday.

The study found that nine in 10 (90%) of motorists claim they have driven far less during lockdown than before, in fact, the average British driver has only been behind the wheel for up to five hours a week over the past year - less than half as much as they were pre-pandemic.

This extended break from driving might lead to some hairy moments on the road, according to the data, with 38% expecting to see an increase in road rage post lockdown, as people have become more impatient and will be trying to get to their destinations more quickly.

Tow in five (42%) of the 1,500 UK motorists polled confessed their driving skills were more than a little rusty, while 14% said they have completely forgotten how to drive their car.

The study, by Nextbase, found that 29% of UK drivers said they are worrying about motorway driving again. 

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