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The best and worst times to hit the road this bank holiday

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

More than 14 million cars are expected on UK roads to take advantage of the last bank holiday weekend of the year. If you want to avoid the traffic, here are the best times to travel.

From Thursday through to the bank holiday Monday, Brits will take to the roads with more than 11 million people planning a getaway.

According to the RAC and transport analytics firm INRIX, Friday and Saturday are likely to be the busiest days on the road for leisure trips. It estimates 3.6 million cars will make journeys on each of these days.

They said the worst times to travel on Friday are between 2pm and 7:30pm, while the best time is 10am to 1pm. The worst road for long delays is the M5, J4 to J1.

For Saturday, drivers should avoid travelling between 11am and 3pm, while the best times to drive is between 5pm and 7pm. The M1 J22 to J25 will be particularly bad for queues.

Thursday is expected to see 3.2 million drivers hit the roads, followed by 2.4 million on Monday and a quieter 1.6 million on Sunday. The RAC and INRIX said the best time to travel on Sunday is between 9am and 11am, while drivers should avoid travelling between the busier 4:30pm and 7pm time. For those heading back home on Monday, 10am to 3:30pm are pipped to be the busiest with 5pm to 7pm quieter for road users.

The tables below show the routes which will be particularly heavy for traffic on Friday and Saturday, and how much time this can add to your journey:


RAC traffic spokesman, Rod Dennis, said: “While the late August bank holiday is not typically one of the busiest on the roads due to it falling in the middle of the school holidays when people are already away, either in the UK or abroad, it still has huge potential to bring gridlock to major roads, especially if we were to see the sun make a welcome comeback.

“There are plenty of known hotspots on the motorway network but probably the single biggest one in the summer months is the Almondsbury interchange at Bristol, right by the RAC building, where the M5 and the M4 meet. As tens of thousands of drivers head for Devon and Cornwall the coming-together of traffic leads to regular tailbacks every Friday afternoon. Add a bank holiday and some sunshine into the mix and it’s the perfect recipe for a long wait on the motorway.”

INRIX data scientist, Josh Kidd, added that the best advice to anyone driving this bank holiday weekend is to travel as early or as late in the day as possible to avoid the worst of the traffic.