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More than 10m cars due to take to the roads as a third of all drivers head off for an overnight stay in England this weekend

The easing of lockdown restrictions in England from next weekend (4 July) will see the equivalent of more than 10m people – an incredible one third (31%) of all drivers – getting away for an overnight stay, potentially making it the busiest weekend of the year so far on the roads.

Understandably, driving to stay over with family or friends is the most popular option, with a fifth of drivers (19% – equivalent to 6.5m people) planning such a trip, but campsites also look set to finally receive their first significant volume of visits this year with 6% of respondents – or around 2m drivers – planning an overnight stay under the stars. Two per cent (680,000 drivers) plan on towing their caravans to a caravan site for a short break, while three per cent (1m) favour a stay in hotel, B&B or self-catering accommodation.

The RAC is reminding people to ensure their vehicles and anything they are towing are thoroughly checked over before setting out to avoid the chances of a breakdown in what may well turn out to be the busiest weekend on England’s roads so far this year.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “These figures suggest that after 15 weeks of lockdown, a large proportion of drivers in England are desperate to reconnect with friends, family and indeed nature by staying overnight, be that in a house or on a camping or caravan site.

“This could lead to some busy conditions on the roads, with the location of queues likely to be dependent on just how far people travel – motorways and major A-roads could end up taking the brunt of the traffic if people have longer distances to drive to see family and friends or to take a weekend break.

“While our research suggests weekend traffic could be the heaviest of the year so far, a breakdown has the potential to make matters even worse. Our patrols offer complete peace of mind should the unexpected happen, fixing four-out-of-five of our customers’ vehicles on the spot. But there is a lot drivers can do before they set out to lessen the likelihood of a breakdown in the first place.

“Tyre condition and pressure – of cars, as well as trailers and caravans – should be top of the list of things to check before any trip, followed by oil and coolant level.

“Those with motorhomes or towing caravans and trailers should also check that their breakdown policy adequately covers them – many have restrictions on the length, weight and height of vehicles, and on the number of people who can be covered. The RAC’s Arrival product, developed closely with the Camping and Caravanning Club, is designed with these customers in mind and offers a best-in-market breakdown service that can take away a lot of the worry should an unfortunate breakdown occur.

“For any driver whose car needs essential work – be it an MOT, service or other work – this could be a good week to get that work booked in before the weekend. RAC Approved and Accredited Garages are currently reporting good daily availability, with all covered by a COVID-19 code of conduct designed to keep customers and staff safe.

“The likely increase in journeys being taken by car next weekend follows a clear increase in traffic on the roads in recent weeks, with our own analysis showing that the number of motorists breaking down is now near enough back to what we would expect for late June.”

Where do drivers plan on staying overnight in England this weekend?

 

% of drivers

Equivalent number of drivers

A family member’s home

11%

3,740,000

A friend’s home

8%

2,720,000

At a campsite

6%

2,040,000

At a caravan site

2%

680,000

At a hotel or bed and breakfast

1%

340,000

In self-catered accommodation

2%

680,000

At a second home

1%

340,000

Total with plans to drive and stay over

31%

10,540,000

 

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