Millions of people remain cautious about socialising over Easter despite lockdown rules being relaxed and an upturn in the weather conditions, a new survey suggests.
A quarter of the 1,200 drivers polled for the RAC said they are not planning a leisure trip by car over the bank holiday weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Motorists expect to make just 5.6 million trips by car to see friends and family between Good Friday and Easter Monday, the research indicates.
Excluding last year's Easter weekend write-off, it will be the quietest Easter weekend on the roads since the motoring group started measuring traffic volumes in 2014.
No Easter jams in 2021 as drivers opt to stay home: A new survey suggests just 5.6million car journeys will be made over the bank holiday weekend
Easter is normally one of the busiest weekends of the year on UK roads, with 12.2 million leisure trips planned in 2019.
Easter weekend traffic volumes since 2014
2021 (estimate): 5.6million
2020: no measure due to lockdown
2019: 12.2million journeys
2018: 12.4million journeys
2017: 12.8million journeys
2016: 18.3million journeys
2015: 16.3million journeys
2014: 8.7million journeys
Source: RAC and INRIX
But even despite lockdown restrictions in England being eased from Monday - with two households or up to six people allowed to meet outdoors and the formal end of the 'stay at home' rule - few are intending to hit the road in the coming days.
That includes motorists in Wales, which lifted its 'stay local' requirement on Saturday.
A similar study by rival motoring organisation, the AA, shared a similarly quiet picture for the roads over the weekend.
Easter Monday is set to be the quietest day for traffic during the bank holiday period with just 28 per cent of drivers planning a trip, according to an AA-Yonder survey of 15,000 motorists.
Saturday is expected to see the most activity, with 36 per cent of drivers due to hit the road.
This is ahead of Good Friday (31 per cent) and Easter Sunday (30 per cent).
These are - of course - only predictions for traffic levels and could all change come Friday, especially if warmer temperatures continue to bathe large parts of the country.
Millions of people remain cautious about socialising over Easter despite lockdown rules being relaxed, a new survey by the RAC has suggests
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: 'What is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for leisure trips in normal times could turn out to be anything but in 2021, with the pandemic continuing to have a big impact on drivers' plans to see friends and family this Easter.
'The fact that meetings among family members or friends must be outdoors is very clearly on drivers' minds.
'Nonetheless, it's unlikely the roads will be empty of traffic over Easter, and if the weather turns out to be good, more people will inevitably jump in their cars for a trip at short notice, even if that's just among members of the same household.'
Roads the RAC says could have higher-than-usual congestion
A303 – near Stonehenge
A205 – south London
A66 – Keswick
South Circular Road A3 – south London
M5 – north Somerset, Somerset
M25 – Potters Bar
M25 / A10 – Enfield
M25, A282 junction – London
M6 - Wolverhampton / Walsall
A48 – Cardiff
M4 – Newport
Source: RAC and INRIX
Source: RAC and INRIX
Roads to get busier from Monday 12 April when lockdown measures ease again
While congestion levels are expected to be relatively low at the weekend, the survey suggests there could be a surge in traffic during the second week of the Easter school holidays.
Drivers are planning 5.3 million leisure journeys between Friday 9 April and Sunday 11 April.
Journeys are expected to peak on Monday 12 April at 2.3 million.
That is the earliest day that England's restrictions could be further eased, with the reopening of self-catered accommodation and outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks.
While the motoring group believes this weekend will be quieter than a normal Easter bank holiday, the RAC says traffic volumes could rise from Monday 12 April when the next phase of lockdown is lifted
Transport information analysts Inrix believe the worst congestion from a late Easter surge in road use could be on the A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire; the A3 and A205 in south London, the A66 near Keswick, Cumbria; and the M5 in north Somerset.
Mr Dennis continued: 'We're expecting to see greater numbers of people on the roads the weekend after Easter. Drivers have clearly got their eyes on Monday 12 April which is the earliest date when lockdown restrictions could be eased further.
'If the day does get confirmed by the Government, and it coincides with fine weather, there's every chance we could see a real rush on the roads in some parts of the country.'