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Spring bank holiday traffic expected to be ‘quietest on record’

Busy motorway

Two-thirds of drivers (68%) do not expect to use their car for leisure over the bank holiday weekend, new data from the RAC suggests.

It says that drivers are planning just under 10 million separate leisure journeys by car, half the number compared to last year and the fewest for the long weekend since the RAC first started tracking trips.

Among those drivers who do plan on using their car, half of the trips taken will be no more than 10 miles in length.

The RAC’s Rod Dennis said: “This weekend will be anything but a traditional sunny bank holiday weekend, and in fact nationally it could turn out to be the quietest on the motorways and major roads ever, with our research indicating people are much keener to stay at home than pack the car up for a day trip.”

The research suggests interest in using the car to visit beaches, national parks and other beauty spots is considerably lower than just a week ago.

Last weekend, drivers said they were planning in the region of 15 million separate trips – a figure that has fallen to just 9.4 million for the forthcoming weekend, even when bank holiday Monday is taken into account.

One in seven (15%) respondents said they plan on driving no more than 10 miles this weekend, with about half that proportion (8%) expecting to take a trip of between 11 and 30 miles.

The appetite for a lengthier leisure journey of more than 30 miles was even smaller, with just 3% of respondents keen on doing this.

After fears last weekend that national parks and other traditionally popular tourist destinations could be swamped by day trippers, the research provides an indication that the vast majority of drivers remain very cautious about heading further afield for recreation – not least with the vast majority of amenities, including public toilets, remaining shut, said the RAC.

Dennis warned: “There will still almost certainly be jams on local roads leading to beaches, country parks and other beauty spots, probably made up of people who live within very easy reach of these destinations.

“While it’s true that some car parks in popular locations were quick to fill up last weekend, it was positive to see that many of the fears around people swarming to tourist destinations thankfully didn’t translate into widespread problems.

“Tourist boards and the police will be hoping for something similar this coming weekend.”

Analysis of RAC ‘black box’ driving data confirms that more cars are on the road now than before the lockdown in England was eased – on average 4% more per day last week compared to the week before, with vehicles travelling 12% more daily miles.

The number of breakdowns attended by the RAC also rose by around a fifth over this period.

“Despite the promise of more good weather in the coming days, our research suggests the appetite among drivers for longer day trips appears to remain relatively weak at the moment – possibly due to most tourist amenities being closed, or even perhaps because of fears about the difficulty in maintaining social distancing where there are crowds,” said Dennis.

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