“Unprecedented summer” expected on UK roads

RAC urges drivers to make sure cars – and anything they might be towing – are ‘road ready’ or risk breakdown

This summer will see unprecedented levels of traffic on UK roads due to drivers planning in excess of an estimated 29m staycations – 16m of these in the school holidays alone – according to a new study of 2,500 drivers conducted by RAC Breakdown.

The number of drivers making firm staycation bookings has surged 20 per cent since April, with the RAC figures suggesting the West Country – Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – will receive the largest numbers of holidaymakers (30 per cent), followed by Scotland (14 per cent), Yorkshire (8 per cent), the Lake District (6 per cent) and East Anglia (6 per cent).

And while many drivers have already decided which week they’ll be going away, a sizeable fifth (18 per cent) are yet to commit to a week.

Drivers were also asked how far from home they’ll be holidaying in the UK, and results suggest many of us will be travelling much further than usual.

The majority (57 per cent) say they’ll be more than 150 miles from home, with 17 per cent of these more than 300 miles from home.

A third of drivers (33 per cent) who had a staycation in 2020 say they’ll be driving greater distances in the UK this year, perhaps to explore new corners of the country.

Uncertainty around foreign travel could also have the effect of boosting the volumes of traffic on the UK’s roads even further, particularly as Office of National Statistics’ data shows as many as 9.4m overseas trips were made in August 2019.

Just 7 per cent of drivers expect to take a summer holiday elsewhere in Europe, down from 10 per cent in April.

Of those drivers who are still holding on for a foreign trip this summer, 34 per cent say they will end up holidaying in the UK instead if pandemic restrictions affect their plans.

While the car on its own is the most popular means of going on holiday this year, accounting for 90 per cent of trips that will be made by personal transport, 5 per cent will involve towing a caravan or trailer, and a further 5 per cent will be in a motorhome.

When it comes to the types of accommodation drivers will be staying in, self-catering is the most popular (46 per cent of drivers), followed by hotels and B&Bs (22 per cent) and camping or touring sites (17 per cent).

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “Our research shows that while most people have already made their plans, if – as expected – travel restrictions limit the numbers taking foreign holidays, then those booking last-minute trips in the UK will likely soar, adding to what we expect to already be an extremely busy summer on the roads.

“This summer, perhaps more than ever, the last thing anyone wants while they’re away on a well-earned break is a breakdown.

“Busier roads, especially in the heat, can mean a sudden sharp increase in breakdowns, so we’re calling on every driver to check their car is ‘road ready’ and isn’t about to let them down.”


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