Highways Agency warns of traffic hot spots in region as big Easter getaway starts

PUBLISHED: 10:56 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:01 11 May 2010

THE big getaway is expected to start at lunchtime today as people hit the road for the start of the four-day Easter Bank Holiday. And the Highways Agency is warning motorists to be prepared for longer than normal journeys in the eastern region and also ta

THE big getaway is expected to start at lunchtime today as people hit the road for the start of the four-day Easter Bank Holiday.

And the Highways Agency is warning motorists to be prepared for longer than normal journeys in the eastern region and also take a few precautions to make sure journeys are less strenuous if they suffer a breakdown.

A Highways Agency spokesperson told the Comet website: "By 10pm on Thursday, there could be as many as 70,000 extra vehicles on the road, an increase of more than 80 percent on normal flows. The peak time for travelling is at 6pm on Maundy Thursday (tonight) with 351,000 vehicles using our road network, compared to 309,000 on an average Thursday.

"Traffic flow data collected by the Highways Agency's National Traffic Control Centre shows the Easter getaway is expected to be well underway by lunchtime today. By 2pm England's motorways and major trunk roads are 45 per cent busier than a typical Thursday.

"Good Friday is actually quieter than most people expect. Traffic is expected to peak at normal rush hour levels, although the busiest period is midday rather than 9am as normal.

"Highways Agency data for the past five years shows traffic levels are then expected to fall steadily from lunchtime on Good Friday - by 6.30pm there are predicted to be around 40 percent fewer vehicles on the motorways and strategic road network.

"Easter Saturday and Sunday are marginally busier than normal, but this is weather dependent. Easter Sunday's busiest time is around lunchtime, and it's a bit busier than it would be on a non-holiday weekend.

"Bank Holiday Monday is, on the whole, less busy than a normal working Monday due to the lack of commuter traffic. On Easter Tuesday, the mid-morning traffic volumes are much higher than a normal working day.

"Last year, in the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire area and in the East of England, Easter weekend traffic on our motorways and main A-roads was down by around 10 per cent and continued to be five per cent down over the next week due to school holidays.

"Last year on Maundy Thursday, traffic on our motorways and main A-roads were up by 10 to 15 per cent. Along the A1(M) and approaching Welwyn Garden City, we expect an increase of traffic of up to 15% . There is likely to be hotspots around Stevenage, Black Cat and Peterborough.

"You should expect the M1 to be busier than normal but, due to the recent road widening programme, it is difficult to give reliable traffic estimates between the M25 intersection Junction 6a and north Bedford near Junction 13."

The Highways Agency spokesman added: "The driving advice we give is that all road users should check that their vehicle is well maintained before setting off on long journeys. Check your oil, tyres and water for your windscreen and ensure that you have enough petrol for your journey.

"You should plan your journey using the Highways Agency's Traffic England website or call our information line on 08457 504030. We now have a mobile version of the website that you can access using a mobile phone or other mobile device. But remember it is illegal to use your phone when driving. Planning is particularly important if you have passenger who are children, people with disabilities or people who need to take medicines.

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