As we say farewell to summer and the half term break approaches, Trafficmaster predicts that Friday 21st October – the traditional "Black Friday" seen at the start of this half term break in England and Wales – is expected to be one of the worst days on the roads for congestion this year.
"There are many different factors affecting traffic congestion at the moment," said Graham Smith, Data Manager, at Trafficmaster. "Although this half term is the final week of British Summer Time, the weather is forecast to be colder and more unsettled than recently. This year, the economic situation has deterred many from taking overseas holidays and encouraged fewer, shorter breaks – and this is likely to be the last opportunity before the Christmas period."
"Long-term roadwork’s, in particular those associated with the introduction of Managed Motorways, will continue throughout this period, whilst other routine scheduled roadwork’s are likely to continue for completion before the restricted daylight period of mid-winter."
Trafficmaster expects to see heavier traffic than usual on commuter routes on Friday afternoon, with some ‘holiday getaway’ runs from mid-afternoon. This day has often proved the most congested day of the year on Britain’s motorway network, although often dependent upon the prevailing weather conditions. On Saturday expect heavier traffic than usual on the shorted ‘holiday getaway’ runs from mid-morning into early afternoon.
"Some consolation for motorists is that commuter routes are likely to be much quieter than usual during the half-term week with no school runs" added Graham Smith. "The return run from the half term holidays is also expected to be spread over a few days but the heaviest traffic is likely to be seen from about 3.00pm on Sunday 30th October as many start for home while it is still daylight."
From Monday 31st October, the regular evening peak times will be in darkness. Apart from the added hazards of night driving, this will mean some drivers who have used cross-country routes during the summer period will now return to better-lit motorway routes for the winter period.
The routes Trafficmaster expects to be the most congested on "Black Friday" will see around a 20% increase in congestion, compared to a normal Friday. Drivers should expect their journeys to take longer than usual for a Friday, and allow plenty of time for their journeys.
Trafficmaster’s top five predicted traffic hotspots for half term:
Road Section of road
M25 Northern Sector (J21A/J31)
M1 Homes Counties (M25/Milton Keynes)
M6 Staffordshire/Cheshire/South Lancashire
A11 Around Elveden crossroads
M3/M27/A31 Between Winchester (M3/J9) and Ringwood/Ferndown.