The 2009 Summer Holiday Congestion Hotspots

With some of the highest temperatures on record for May and June this year already and predictions for a barbecue summer, families hard-pressed for holiday cash, are opting for regular weekend breaks and outings instead of jetting off abroad. Trafficmaster, the leading traffic information provider, has seen a weekend congestion pattern emerging since the beginning of May 2009 which looks set to continue. Coupled with research from the AA/Populus panel that shows over 50% more people are intending to holiday in the UK this summer, roads are set to be even busier.

Even with the slightly more unsettled weather recently, Trafficmaster still expects to see the traffic congestion levels compounded on the afternoon of Friday 24th July 2009, as the majority of schools in England and Wales break that week for the holidays. Add sudden downpours into the equation, which make for difficult driving conditions and this will slow journey times even more.

"We have been monitoring a definite trend towards weekend getaway traffic and Sunday tripping since the beginning of May," said Graham Smith, Data Manager at Trafficmaster. "This is very much reverting to the trend there used to be years ago for family trips out on a regular basis rather than a major summer break abroad. Interestingly, this congestion peak on Fridays and Sundays is in contrast to overall traffic congestion levels during the working week that we have seen decreasing for the last year as the recession deepened, reducing freight and commuter traffic on the roads."

The most popular long weekend routes are proving to be those down to the West Country, the South Coast and East Anglia, although longer distance routes to and from the North are increasingly congested on Friday afternoons. For example, during June 2009 on the Western section of the M25 which feeds traffic down to the M4 westwards and the M3 south, congestion on weekdays was up by 43% and on the A14 from East Anglia, it was up by 40% - when compared with June 2008. On the M6 between the Midlands and the North West, congestion on Fridays during June 2009 was up by 18% compared with June 2008.

Higher levels of congestion are expected to cause an increase in breakdowns, particularly if temperatures climb as forecast. In the recent heatwave, the AA attended 70,000 breakdowns with a 43% increase in the number of cars overheating.

Stewart Topp, AA patrol of the year, advises: "A few basic checks before you leave home can prevent your day trip or long weekend turning into a nightmare. A quick check that coolant levels and tyre pressures are correct can save you money as well as time."

The top Summer weekend break and holiday congestion hotspots are expected to be:

  • The M25 Western sector. Motorists will be heading out onto the M4 and the M3 to travel to the West Country and the South coast. Traffic to and from terminal 5 at Heathrow and long-term widening work around Rickmansworth are also now impacting on congestion here.
  • The M4 from London towards South Wales and the South West.
  • The M3 and M27 towards Southampton and the Dorset coast.
  • M5 south of Bristol will be busy as traffic heads towards the West Country.
  • The A303 and the A30 are also main holiday routes into the West Country and will be busy throughout the summer.
  • The A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge and A11 and A47 to Norfolk and the East Coast.
  • M6 in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire for routes to the North, North West and Lake District.
  • A55 into North Wales.
8 July 2009 Staff

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