With the school summer holidays almost upon us, and more drivers using its roads, the Highways Agency is asking road users to plan their journeys and check their vehicles before setting off.
The Agency is publishing a list of potential hotspots on its roads, which, along with its summer travel advice, will help people as they travel this summer.
The Agency has analysed traffic information from the last three years for two key summer periods – the first weekend of the school holidays for many areas (18 to 20 July) and the August bank holiday weekend (22 to 25 August). For each of these periods, they have identified routes that can become busy at specific peak times.
The type of information the Agency’s data shows is that, with ports and airports especially popular, routes to Manchester Airport, Dover and Folkestone were generally busy over the weekend of 18 to 20 July, especially around lunchtimes.
For the August bank holiday weekend, the data shows that the east and west coasts of England, along with Gatwick and Heathrow, were busy, especially at lunchtimes. The Agency will be suspending or completing the majority of its road works during the bank holiday period to help road users.
Simon Sheldon-Wilson, Director of Traffic Management, said:
We’ll be doing all we can during the summer to ensure road users get to their destinations smoothly and safely. Our traffic officers will also be on hand to clear incidents from the roads and get traffic moving as soon as possible.
Inevitably there will be times where routes become congested, and many people will be driving on unfamiliar roads, so we ask road users to help themselves by planning ahead to avoid peak times, using our journey planning tools and allowing enough time for their journeys.
It’s also vital that people check and maintain their vehicles before setting off. A single preventable breakdown can cause chaos for thousands of people – and congestion costs the economy an estimated £3bn every year.
The Agency is urging road users to properly check their vehicles before travelling – as new data shows that more than 9,000 of the incidents it deals with in the summer months are potentially preventable breakdowns.
The data shows that 9,300 of the 115,014 incidents on its network between July and September last year were potentially preventable: 8,712 were tyre-related breakdowns and 588 were out-of-fuel breakdowns.
Peter Rodger, Chief examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said:
A major cause of breakdown is running out of fuel. Check that – and while you’re doing it, water, oil and tyres – and you will be well on the way to preventing a breakdown that could make your summer getaway an unpleasant experience instead of the brilliant one you hoped for.
Drivers can check planned road works on motorways and major A roads in advance on the Highways Agency’s website. Just before they set out they can get up-to-date information about incidents and congestion hotspots on the road network by calling the Agency’s helpline on 0300 123 5000 or checking Twitter.
Information about the Agency’s road network is available on the Traffic England website and drivers can download a live traffic info app to their smartphones on the iTunes website so they can check on current road and traffic conditions while enroute. But remember it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000
Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.