How to Be Prepared on the Roads this Bank Holiday
The long weekend is almost upon us, with a much-needed break from work, and extra time to spend with friends and family. But with an estimated 13 million people across the country taking to the road, the bank holiday can also mean a nightmare of traffic jams and tailbacks.
Bank holidays seem to be the same each time: you pack the car up and hop in ready to drive smoothly to your destination of fun and relaxation, when you come across the traffic from hell. Long weekends are renowned for having terrible traffic; whether it’s really hot and everyone is heading to the beach or they are driving back from weekends away visiting friends and family, it seems no one can avoid the motorway tailbacks.
If you’re hitting the road this weekend, be sure to take the following simple steps to help make your drive go as smoothly as possible.
Check Live Traffic Update
Whilst traffic jams can sometimes be unavoidable, bank holidays are responsible for creating up to a 50% rise in cars on the road, so it comes as no surprise that there’s a backlog of vehicles.
However, you can plan your route accordingly using online route planners and regularly check Twitter for accounts dedicated to traffic updates on busy roads such as the M4, M6 and M25 – these may help you to plan an alternative route.
Don’t check these updates whilst driving, however, as you will be breaking the law. Check before you set off or get one of your passengers to check for you.
According to Inrix, a company that provides insight into traffic and road data, some of the busiest roads are the following:
*Please note: these roads see a high volume of traffic but other roads can be even busier on the day, especially if accidents occur.
Be Considerate towards Other Drivers
Whilst an increase in traffic can be down to the sheer number of cars on the road, sometimes it builds up because of the way people are driving.
When faced with lots of traffic, some drivers think that weaving between cars and lane hopping is the quickest way to get to their destination. However, this kind of driving, along with each driver slowing down slightly (as there are more cars on the road), creates more traffic than if cars were to stay in their lanes.
Timing is Everything
Those heading away for long weekends are likely to hit the road on Friday afternoon, meaning that the post-work Friday traffic will increase. If you’re also going away on Friday afternoon, leave either just after lunch or later Friday evening.
Monday is the day that will be the hardest to avoid as most are taking advantage of the long weekend and have left it until Monday to return home. You can avoid this by leaving early on Monday morning, or enjoy your day and head back later in the evening. Peak times are usually between 1pm and 4pm.
Avoid Traffic Hotspots
If you know that certain areas get built up on a normal day, it’s probably best to avoid them completely on bank holidays.
Shopping and DIY are both big trends on bank holiday weekends, so if you’re driving locally, aim to avoid areas that would see a spike in traffic due to these activities, such as shopping malls and retail parks.
If you’re driving further afield, consider avoiding popular tourist destinations, such as the South Coast, London and the Lake District.
Also do some research around general events in your area or the place you are travelling to. Bank holidays play host to many festivals and local events, so it’s important to know of any reason that may cause a spike in visitors, and therefore cars on the road.
If the traffic is unavoidable, at least make the jam as comfortable as possible for you and your passengers by taking heed of the following.
Take Regular Breaks
Drivers are advised to take regular breaks when on long journeys, and this is just as important even if you’re stationary in traffic because it’s still draining to be cooped up in a hot car for long periods of time.
You can avoid this by sharing the driving with another driver, although it’s important to check you’ve both got the right insurance beforehand.
Look After Your Vehicle
Sitting in traffic for long periods of time can all have an effect on your vehicle. Here are some crucial checks to do before long drives and to avoid breakdowns if you’ve been crawling down the road or stationary with your engine running.
- Check oil coolant levels
- Ensure you have enough fuel
- Check tyre pressure and tread depth
- Pack an emergency pack of supplies, including water and snacks
- Don’t overload your car