Bank holiday traffic 2023: May Day and Coronation travel warning and the times and roads to avoid

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Experts predict busiest May Day holiday for seven years ahead of booming traffic on Coronation long weekend

Drivers face “double traffic trouble” over the next two weekends as millions take advantage of back-to-back bank holidays.

The May Day bank holiday is set to be the busiest on the roads since 2016, according to traffic experts, with queues of at least 30 minutes predicted on key routes and travel times doubling in some places. The following weekend’s Coronation celebrations are also expected to see millions of people make extra trips as they enjoy the extra time off work and school. 

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According to traffic experts Inrix and motoring group the RAC, a total of 32m leisure journeys will be made over both weekends, with around 17.2 over the May Day break and around 14.6m on the weekend of the Coronation. 

Friday 28 April is expected to bring an increased risk of congestion and delays as 2.3 million additional trips combine with regular commuter traffic on the country’s biggest roads. The next day is expected to be even busier, with 2.7m extra journeys planned, according to the RAC’s research.

Major roads in and around Greater London will be key traffic hotspots, with stretches of the M5 and M6 also singled out as routes where traffic and breakdowns could quickly lead to major hold-ups. Inrix is warning that the M5 southbound between J15 Bristol and J23 Taunton and M6 northbound from J18 Chester to J24 Liverpool will see queues of at least 30 minutes this weekend, and is advising drivers to set out before 11am on Friday or leave their trip until later in the evening or early Saturday morning. 

The Coronation weekend is expected to be slightly quieter and see a more even spread of traffic from Friday to Monday, with around two million extra trips per day. However, Friday afternoon and Saturday are likely to see the biggest chance of delays. 

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Although traffic levels aren’t expected to be as bad as during the Easter holidays, the RAC’s Rod Dennis warned that good weather could swell the number of journeys even further. He said: “While we’d expect more short breaks and day trips to the coast this coming weekend, when it comes to the Coronation it’s likely major routes are less likely to be congested. 

“The big variable, as always, is what happens with the Great British weather. If temperatures finally increase and the sun makes more of an appearance, we could well see many more people jumping in the car for a quick trip.

“In order to avoid any disappointment caused from cars letting their everyone on board down, we urge drivers to check tyres, oil and coolant levels as matters of priority before they hit the road. While our teams will be working hard throughout both bank holidays, no-one wants to feel royally fed up by being stuck at the side of the road waiting for help.”

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at Inrix, said: “Although delays won’t be as severe as Easter, drivers should expect long delays on major roads in and around greater London this weekend. Travel times will likely peak on Friday afternoon with some areas seeing double the travel times as holiday travellers mix with commuters, but drivers should be prepared for added congestion throughout the holiday weekend.” 

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