With the summer holidays in full swing, many people are heading off on their summer break. Whether you’re driving to the airport or using the UK road network for a domestic getaway, traffic can wreak havoc with your plans.
From the increased number of road users to scheduled maintenance work during ‘quieter’ times, many factors have the potential to affect the length of our journeys this summer. So, how can you avoid the worst of summer traffic?
The worst culprits named
Transport Minister Jesse Norman has helpfully named and shamed some of the worst roads when it comes to congestion. The 12 mile stretch of the A458 connecting the West Midlands with Wales was highlighted as one of the worst affected roads during the summer holiday period. Some 23% more vehicles use the road in the six-week holiday period than at any other time of the year – definitely one to avoid if you possibly can!
Another road to steer clear of is the A30, which runs from south-west London to Cornwall. The 117-mile-long road sees a 19% increase in traffic during the school holidays. In third place was the 14.5 mile stretch of the A2070 in Kent, which is used to reach a number of beach destinations, including Camber Sands. That route experiences a 16% rise in traffic over the summer period.
It’s not just those who are off on their holidays who suffer as a result of overcrowding on the UK’s roads. Heightened traffic can cause misery for those living in areas that experience significant seasonal increases, meaning that travelling to work or visiting friends can take much longer than usual.
The RAC predicts that some 37 million leisure trips will be made during the first fortnight of the summer holidays. The worst times to travel are between 1pm and 8pm on Fridays, and between 11am and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Avoiding the chaos
Clearly, avoiding the roads entirely over the summer months isn’t feasible, but how can drivers get where they need to without losing valuable time to traffic jams? And how can locals make their normal routines less stressful when traffic volume has increased?
Use alternative routes
Whether you have a sat nav in your car or prefer to use your smartphone, there are now plenty of options for finding alternative routes and avoiding the most used areas. One example is the heavily used A30 in the Bodmin Moor area – rather than following the road, cut through Bodmin and join it down where the route meets the A39. The detour makes for a great lunch break and cuts out some of the worst of the traffic on the A30.
Google Maps Traffic Updater
A handy facility for dodging the jams is the Google Maps Traffic Updater. Google Maps is a great tool to use as a sat nav system, and its traffic updater can be even more helpful. The free service allows you to see where the worst traffic is along your route and on alternative routes. Red sections indicated traffic moving at below 25 miles an hour. Red-black sections denote stationary traffic.
Travel at off-peak times
Travelling off-peak, such as late at night or in the early hours of the morning has several benefits. Firstly, there’s less traffic on the road, so the journey won’t take as long. Secondly, if you have kids, they might sleep through some of the journey. Just remember that some facilities such as service stations and motorway services might not be open 24 hours a day, so plan accordingly.
Making the most of it
A little forward planning means you can reduce your chances of sitting in a queue of unmoving traffic this summer. Sometimes, however, it isn’t possible to avoid the jams, despite careful planning and use of the latest technology. With that in mind, pack plenty of snacks and other treats, along with a good selection of music and lots of fluids, in case you get stuck on your travels. Think about ways to keep cool as well, and be sure not to let your petrol levels drop too low – using PetrolPrices to make sure you get the best value on your journey, of course!
What are your tactics for avoiding the worst of the summer traffic jams? Share your inspiring jam-dodging techniques by leaving a comment.