UK Government

Highways Agency (National): Families urged to plan ahead for half term car journeys

Press Release   •   Oct 22, 2010 11:29 BST

Families heading for a half term break this October are being advised by the Highways Agency to plan their route and check for delays before they set off.

With the vast majority of schools breaking up today (Friday 22 October), the Highways Agency is expecting that the motorways and major A roads it manages will be busier than usual over the weekend - particularly on Saturday from lunchtime onwards.

Families can use a range of journey planning tools provided by the Agency to check travel conditions before they set out.

Steve Crosthwaite, head of the Highways Agency's National Traffic Control Centre said:

"We are expecting more traffic on the motorways and major A roads we manage throughout half term week and, based on our experience in previous years, traffic patterns could be noticeably different to a normal weekday . So the best thing people can do is plan their journey before they set off.

"Our traffic information is provided through a range of channels, so people can easily check if there are any delays on the route ahead and leave extra time for their journey or find another route if necessary."

“Traffic patterns for October half term show quieter morning rush hours, but additional traffic around the middle of the day and in the evening - perhaps as a result of more families taking day trips rather than heading off for the week.

"In contrast to the main summer getaway, the pressure in October is spread around the country more and does not focus so much on a few key holiday routes. Last year we also saw more evidence of families making day trips mid-week. The busiest day for extra traffic was the Wednesday in the middle of half term."

The Highways Agency collects live data from thousands of vehicle sensors and CCTV around its network. This is then used to direct the Agency's traffic officer patrols who help to clear up any incidents as quickly as possible and help get people moving again. The data is collected by the National Traffic Control Centre and fed to overhead message signs on motorways, websites and more than 240 radio stations.

Live traffic information can be checked on the Agency's website or by calling an automated phone service on 08700 660 115. Drivers can get updates during the journey from the overhead message signs, Traffic Radio or by checking the website from a mobile device when they stop for a break.

Notes to editors

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available:
- From our Traffic Radio service, available on DAB digital radio and the internet at To tune into the DAB service, simply press the "scan" button on your radio. The radio will tune into all available channels and you can select the new service by scrolling through the channels until you reach "Traffic Radio".
- From the web at or if using a phone or mobile device.
Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call.
- By phone from the Highways Agency 24-hour voice activated phone service on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT residential landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

3. For more general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website, or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time (Calls to 0300 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute from a standard BT residential landline. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary, but will be no more than a standard geographic call and will be included in all inclusive minutes and discount schemes).

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