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School half term brings quieter commute for drivers

3.4 million fewer drivers will be commuting during May half term 

Posted on 30 May 2017

One in eight (13%) commuters won’t be travelling to work during the May half term.
Commuters shave five minutes off their journey on average during half-term (27 minutes vs. 22 minutes).
Seven in 10 (69%) commuters who drive to work get caught up in the school run between 7am-9am, with a quarter (24%) blaming parents for rush hour traffic.
Two in five (39%) drivers say they are able to leave their house later during school holidays.

As schools break up for half term next week, drivers will be relieved of the usual rush hour traffic as 3.4 million(1) fewer commuters are expected to take to the roads.

Of the 26.4 million(2) motorists who drive to work, nearly one in eight (13%) will not be commuting this May half term – freeing the roads of approximately 3.4 million cars. According to recent research obtained by, the no.1 site for car savings, workers will shave an average of five minutes off their drive time during school holidays with the average commute expected to take just 22 minutes.

However, on a normal day when parents are ferrying their children to and from school, commuters face a 27-minute average journey as they make their way into work. In fact, when children are on school holiday, two in five (39%) motorists say they are able to leave their house later to get to work.

Drivers seem to be very quick to point the finger and blame parents for rush hour traffic with one in four (24%) believing the main cause is parents on the school-run. This may be unsurprising given more than two thirds (69%) of commuters begin their journey between 7am and 9am, which falls at the same time as the standard school drop-off time. And their journeys home seem to be affected, too. One in eight (13%) commuters set off home between 2pm and 4pm, which is when schools are closing. In fact, it’s likely the busy evening rush is kick-started when these motorists are on the roads at the same time as parents collecting their children from school. So perhaps it’s little surprise one fifth (20%) of commuters wish there were more school holidays as their trips to and from work would be a lot quicker and easier. 

Of the 3.4 million commuters who are fortunate enough to be skipping the daily rush hour this half term, more than four fifths (84%) will still be travelling about in their car at some point in the week. Nearly half (47%) say they will be driving to visit family and friends, or going to the shops (46%). One in five (19%) will be using the half term to go on holiday in the UK, with one in eight (12%) escaping the country for a break abroad.

And those commuters who will still be driving to work throughout half term will likely experience a more relaxing journey than usual, given the lower levels of traffic. More than one quarter (27%) of drivers say they find they are a calmer driver during the school holidays as there is less traffic. In fact, one in five (20%) say they often arrive at work annoyed because of bad traffic, with another fifth (20%) experiencing road rage on their commute to work. Perhaps commuters look forward to the school breaks as much as the children.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “As schools break up for May half term, many parents, teachers and other workers will be staying home during the dreaded rush hour. This will likely free up the roads for other commuters and give them a much more relaxing drive to work.

“We recommend those who are staying home this half term to consider travelling outside of rush hour periods wherever possible as they may still hit bad traffic which could add time on to their journeys.”

- Ends- 

Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 16th May and 22nd May 2017.

1. Department for Transport figures show there are 45.5 million driving licence holders in Britain (Sept 2014) – according to our research 58% of which commute to work in their car (26,390,000). 13% of these say they will not being commuting during half term. 13% of 26,390,000 = 3,432,000, rounded down to 3.4 million.
2. Department for Transport figures show there are 45.5 million driving licence holders in Britain (Sept 2014) - 58% of this is 26,390,000 (rounded up to 26.4 million).

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