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 extra traffic volumes, coupled with fraying tempers in jams and the battle for parking spaces at resorts could lead to a spike in motor claims too.
The number of drivers making firm staycation bookings has surged 20% since April, with the RAC figures suggesting the West Country – Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – will receive the largest numbers of holidaymakers (30%), followed by Scotland (14%), Yorkshire (8%), the Lake District (6%) and East Anglia (6%).
And while many drivers have already decided which week they’ll be going away, a sizeable fifth (18%) are yet to commit to a week. This suggests some people are hoping to grab a last-minute booking or are perhaps holding out to see what the Great British weather has in store before committing.
With the school summer holidays just around the corner and most families already having made their plans for a break, the prospect of lengthy bumper-to-bumper queues on major routes – and a spike in breakdowns – has now shot up. The RAC is therefore urging drivers to make sure their cars – and anything they might be towing – are ‘road ready’ or risk a breakdown during what could turn out to be one of the busiest summers on the roads in years. Quickly checking a car’s tyres, oil, coolant and even fuel levels before setting off makes the difference between a smooth journey and one blighted by a breakdown. Drivers should also check traffic conditions before setting out and avoid travelling on the busiest roads during the busiest periods.
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%) say they’ll be more than 150 miles from home, with 17% of these more than 300 miles from home. But interestingly a third of drivers (33%) 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.
RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said:
“With the school summer holidays just days away, a second ‘staycation summer’ in a row now looks like a certainty and will mean millions of us relying on our cars to get us wherever we want to go.
“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.
Interestingly, many people are planning on taking a break in September too, which can help avoid the worst accommodation prices which peak in August.
“Our research also suggests a possible prolonged summer season this year – the return of children to schools in September doesn’t look like it will signal a huge drop in summer holidays, with a third of drivers saying they’re planning to take a UK staycation in September.”