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Top Gear’s Entirely Unhelpful Bank Holiday Motoring Tips

Want to avoid gridlock on the roads? We have absolutely no useful advice to offer

Hurrah! It is – if you live in the UK [England and Wales] – August bank holiday weekend! Which means – if you live in the UK [England and Wales] – August bank holiday weekend traffic chaos!

Forecasters are predicting one of the worst weekends of traffic gridlock ever witnessed on British roads, with hordes of holidaymakers and ill-timed roadworks spelling monster tailbacks around many of our most popular tourist destinations.

So what’s to be done? Well, with every other automotive portal clamouring to offer Bank Holiday motoring tips – and following the tearaway success of last year’s winter driving hints - Top Gear once again leaps upon the consumer advice bandwagon to present you with our Handy Hints For Dealing With Bank Holiday Traffic Problems. Really, you’re quite welcome.

1) Avoid the obvious routes.

If, for example, you’re heading from the south-east to Cornwall, roadworks are expected to blight both the A303 and M5, in all probability grinding these main thoroughfares to standstill. So consider alternative routes. For example, the A43 between Kettering and Corby should be no more congested than usual over the Bank Holiday period. OK, it does represent something of a detour if you’re on your way to Newquay, but you can’t put a price on smooth-flowing roads. In fact, why not go the whole hog and…

2) Reconsider your destination.

Devon? Brighton? The Lake District? So cliché. So busy. What about the lesser-known beauty spots of, say, Catford, Wolverhampton or Stockton Upon Tees? Not an ounce of disrespect meant to any of those fine locations, but, statistically, there is no denying their approach roads are likely to be far less crowded than those of, for example, Lyme Regis this weekend.

3) Avoid travelling during peak times.

Forecasters predict that Friday evening, Saturday morning and Monday afternoon will be the busiest periods on British roads, so why not consider travelling when things are a little quieter? For example, the A30 westbound over Bodmin Moor should be a breeze at, ooh, 2am on Thursday 16 February 2017.

4) Buy a shorter car.

The average length of a family car in the UK is around 4.5 metres. If, before tonight, we all went out and bought Smart ForTwos (2.7m), that’ll instantly free up a whole lot more space on the UK road network. OK, you’ll have to leave your children at home, but on the plus side, you’ll have to leave your children at home. But if you really, really can’t stomach the thought of driving a Smart, you could always try…

5) Platooning.

Why wait for autonomous cars to become a reality in order to harness the space-saving advantages of platooning? Simply find five other vehicles heading to the same general corner of the country, and lash your vehicles together in a sort of rudimentary road train. More room on the road (probably), improved fuel consumption (possibly), mild terror (definitely). Please note that Top Gear is unsure of either the legality or safety of DIY platooning. Braking distances, Top Gear suspects, may be somewhat compromised. In fact, maybe scrap this one and simply…

6) Suck it up.

Yes, sitting in traffic is a pain, but let’s be honest, is what awaits at the end of your journey really any better? A mouldy guesthouse run by a nonagenarian couple with medieval skin diseases, no wifi, breakfast served strictly between 6.50 and 6.58am: these are the staples of a British bank holiday weekend away. At least, in your car, you’ve got air conditioning and can choose what’s on the radio. And at least you know you’ve only ingested flakes of your OWN epidermis. Though, to be honest, if we really value our own space, we should probably all just…

7) Stay at home.

Top Gear is, as you know, a publication that revels in the heady joy of driving, and needs no excuse to head off on a spurious road trip. But there are limits to even our enthusiasm for a drive. If, say, you’re planning on heading from the south-east to West Cornwall this Friday night, maybe you’re just better off sitting on the sofa, sticking on your favourite series of Mrs Brown’s Boys – it is, after all, the UK’s favourite sitcom – and heading off on holiday next week instead.*

*This advice is in no way motivated by the fact the author is travelling from London to West Cornwall on Friday night, and would appreciate the rest of you clearing off the roads.

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