Summer UK holiday traffic chaos warning - where are the flashpoints and when is best to travel?

The RAC says around 12.6 million leisure trips by road will take place between Friday and Monday, causing "bumper-to-bumper traffic" and there are also expected delays at ports and warnings of strikes affecting flights and airports.

Tuesday 18 July 2023 16:51, UK

Vehicles queue for ferries at the Port of Dover, Kent, where passengers are facing up to a two-hour wait for checks by French border officials due to a high volume of tourist traffic beginning the summer getaway early and heavy freight traffic. Picture date: Friday July 7, 2023. PA Photo. Delays in processing passengers have been blamed on French border officials carrying out extra checks and stamping UK passports following Brexit. See PA story SEA Dover. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Drivers are being warned to expect long delays this weekend as nearly 13 million getaway journeys are planned.

The RAC said around 12.6 million leisure trips by road will take place between Friday and Monday, causing "bumper-to-bumper traffic".

The majority of schools in England and Wales break up for summer on Friday - which is set to be the worst day for congestion as holidaymakers embark on day trips or holidays by car.

Traffic hotspots will include the M5 south from near Bristol (Junction 15) to Bridgwater (Junction 23), which is a popular route for holidaymakers travelling to the southwest, according to Transport analysis company Inrix.

There are also likely to be delays on the M25 clockwise between Junction 10 for the A3 to Kingston and Junction 6 for the A22 to East Grinstead, it predicts.

Drivers wanting to avoid long queues are advised not to travel on major roads between late morning and early evening from Thursday to Sunday.

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RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said routes heading south and west are likely to encounter some of the longest queues.

"Anyone using the M5 southbound from Bristol should anticipate bumper-to-bumper traffic, with those travelling outside peak periods most likely to have a better journey," he said.

"We're seeing an enormous increase in breakdowns this year as drivers dependent on their vehicles for leisure and work contend with cripplingly high prices, leading to some scrimping on car maintenance as a result.

"It's for this reason we're urging drivers to take action to avoid a summer surge of breakdowns.

"No driver should set off before a long journey without carrying out a few basic checks to ensure their cars have got the right levels of oil and coolant, as well as making sure all tyres have plenty of tread and are properly inflated."

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Queues for the ferry at Dover on Saturday morning

Read more: How the heatwave will impact your holiday Gatwick strikes: What you need to know if you're going on holiday Workers pour with sweat in heatwave - but they have little choice

Meanwhile, holidaymakers sailing from the Port of Dover are being warned to expect two-and-a-half hour delays this week during the peak hours of 6am to 1pm during the first couple of Saturdays and Sundays of the summer holidays.

The port is urging car passengers embarking on summer getaways from Friday to arrive up to three hours before their booked sailing.

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said his staff have done "everything we possibly can" to minimise delays - and warned unforeseen circumstances such as technical issues, industrial action or road traffic accidents on the approaches into the port "could throw us some more challenges".

UK airports are also expected to be busy - though hundreds of thousands of flights across Europe this summer are in jeopardy following a vote by air traffic controllers to take strike action.

A woman cools off at Fontana della Barcaccia at the Spanish Steps during a heat wave across Italy as temperatures are expected to rise further in the coming days, in Rome, Italy July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Almost 1,000 workers at Gatwick Airport, including baggage handlers and check-in staff, will stage eight days of strikes from later this month.

Budget airline easyJet announced earlier this month that it had been forced to cancel 1,700 flights during the peak summer holiday season in response to the impact of air traffic control strikes in Europe and knock-on effects of the closure of airspace due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

In addition, the heatwave gripping Spain, Italy, Greece and Europe's other most popular holiday destinations is impacting people's getaways, with some British holidaymakers cancelling or changing their travel plans due to the extreme weather conditions, with forecasters predicting even higher temperatures this week.

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RAC Travel Insurance

Our verdict: rac travel insurance has high limits and broad cover, particularly for covid-19, financial default, and legal liability..


In this guide

Summary of RAC Travel Insurance International Comprehensive policy

How does rac travel insurance cover covid-19, what policies does rac offer, here's a breakdown of rac travel insurance features, standard features, optional add-ons, how to make an rac travel insurance claim, here's the bottom line about rac travel insurance, frequently asked questions, request travel insurance quotes and compare policies.


  • RAC offers up to $10,000 protection against financial default, which is one of the rarer benefits within travel insurance.
  • A broad range of risks related to COVID-19 are covered, with the RAC among the most comprehensive in the market.
  • Pregnancy is not covered after the 25th week and multiple pregnancies require a medical evaluation at any stage.
  • Although RAC's COVID-19 cover is broad, it's capped at $3,500 which could leave some travellers out of pocket.

Compare other options

Table updated October 2023

RAC offers a broad range of cover for risks related to COVID-19. Here's what you can expect:

  • Overseas medical, hospital, and emergency expenses if you contract COVID-19.
  • Cancellation fees and lost deposits if you have to cancel or cut short your trip due to a COVID-19 related event outside of your control.
  • Cancellation fees and lost deposits if you or a travelling companion are diagnosed with COVID-19 and you have to cancel or rearrange your trip
  • Relevant costs if a close relative or business partner is hospitalised or dies due to COVID-19 and you have to cancel, reschedule or return home early.
  • Relevant costs if you are permanently employed as a healthcare worker and your pre-approved leave is cancelled due to COVID-19.
  • Relevant costs if a pre-paid tour is cancelled due to your tour guide contracting COVID-19
  • Relevant costs if you're not permitted to board scheduled public transport due to you being suspected of having COVID-19
  • Relevant costs if your accommodation is closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 or necessary cleaning due to COVID-19
  • Childcare costs if you're unable to take care of your dependant children due to contracting COVID-19 on your trip.
  • Pet care costs if you're unable to return home on your scheduled date due to contracting COVID-19 on your trip.
  • Transport of your remains or funeral costs if you die as a result of COVID-19 during your trip.

There are some scenarios that are not covered by RAC including costs if you were diagnosed with COVID-19 before heading on your trip but went anyway.

RAC offers five insurance policies to travellers. Comprehensive, Essentials, Medical Only, Annual Multi-Trip, and Domestic.

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Medical Only


Annual Multi-Trip

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The insurer of this product is Tokio Marine & Nichido. It comes with a cooling-off period of 21 days and choice of $250 standard excess for international plans.

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These are some of the main insured events that RAC will cover. Some of these benefits may only apply on the Comprehensive International policy.

  • Overseas medical treatment
  • Lost, damaged or stolen property
  • Trip cancellation or amendment
  • Additional accommodation and transport
  • Rental vehicle excess
  • Theft of money
  • Luggage and travel delay
  • Emergency dental costs
  • Kidnap and hijack
  • Personal liability
  • Permanent disability
  • Accidental death

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RAC also offers some add-ons that provide cover for a wider range of risks.

  • Ski and Winter Sports Cover. Extend your policy to include snow spots and get protection for specific risks such as piste closure, lost lift pass, or avalanche.
  • Cruise Cover Extends your insurance policy to cover cruises.

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Unfortunately, travel insurance doesn't cover everything. Generally, RAC will not pay your claim if it relates to:

  • Unlawful, wreckless or unreasonably unsafe behaviour by you
  • Behaviour while you were drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • Expenses related to a pre-existing medical condition not listed on your policy
  • An act of war, invasion or revolution
  • You being unfit to travel or travelling against medical advice
  • Childbirth or pregnancy complications after the 25th week of gestation
  • A multiple pregnancy without a medical assesment
  • An elective medical or dental treatment , cosmetic procedure or body modification (including tattoos or piercing)
  • Self-inflicted injury or illness, suicide or attempted suicide

Make sure you review the RAC PDS for a detailed breakdown of what won't be covered, found under its list of general exclusions .

The quickest way to lodge your claim is online. You'll need to register with the email address you used to purchase your policy. Once registered, set up your password and complete your claim details by answering all sections.

Once submitted, your claim will be assessed within 10 working days.

Alternatively, you can call RAC on 1300 209 352 or email RAC at [email protected].

RAC offers strong protection across the board, at a reasonable price point.

In regards to COVID-19, a wide range of scenarios are covered but claims are capped at $3,500 which could leave some travellers out of pocket.

Lots of adventure activities, and even scooter and motorbike riding, are covered as standard, which is good news for many adrenaline-fueled but budget-conscious travellers. However, there's no option to add a specific adventure pack so be sure to check exactly which activities are covered and any requirements attached.

If you're still not sure about RAC Travel Insurance, you can compare other travel insurance companies here .

Are my children covered by RAC travel insurance?

Your children and your grandchildren are covered for free if they are 25 years old or younger, are financially dependent on their parents, are not working full time, do not require a medical assessment, are travelling with you the whole time, and are listed on the certificate of insurance.

Is there an age limit for RAC travel insurance?

No, as long as you're over 18 and meet the other requirements listed in the PDS, you can get cover..

Does RAC cover cruises?

RAC does not offer specific cruise cover. If you are going on a cruise which stops at other countries, you will need to select International Cover and list each country where the cruise stops.

Add kids under the age of 1 by typing a “0” 0 traveller(s)

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Nicola Middlemiss

Nicola Middlemiss is a contributing writer at Finder, with a special interest in personal finance and insurance. Formerly a business and finance journalist, Nicola has written thousands of articles helping Australians better understand insurance and grow their personal wealth. She has contributed to a wide range of publications, including Domain, the Educator, Financy, Fundraising and Philanthropy, Insurance Business, MoneyMag, Mortgage Professional, Yahoo Finance, Your Investment Property, and Wealth Professional. Nicola has a Tier 1 General Insurance (General Advice) certification and a Bachelor's degree from the University of Leeds.

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Amendment or Cancellation cost: If a close family member got very sick and I decided not to go on trip, would the policy cover this


Thanks for your question.

Your cancellation will depend on your policy exclusions stated with RAC. If you were aware of any reason, before your period of insurance commenced, that may cause your trip to be cancelled, you may not be covered.

The exact definition of a relative for each travel insurance policy will vary from insurers. Moreover, there are many policies that will cover you for amendment and cancellation costs due to family emergencies.

Please make sure to read the eligibility criteria, features and details of the policy, as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statements before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you. If necessary, speak to the insurance brand to verify any details.

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Severe weather is the number one cause of property damage in Australia. Be prepared and protect yourself with RAC's Severe Weather Warning alerts tailored to your suburb.

Get advance notice of severe weather events in your area with RAC's Severe Weather Warning alerts. Alerts will be sent to you via email or text message, which include type and density of the severe weather event, so you can be better prepared.

If you have any questions about these alerts, please contact us at [email protected] or search for the answer to your query in the FAQs below.

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RAC Insurance has partnered with UBIMET , a global meteorological company, to send Severe Weather Warning alerts directly to our members. These alerts are designed to help protect your personal safety and property. Check your contact details are correct at myRAC .

You’ll receive a message whenever an expert meteorologist forecasts that severe weather will be occurring in your suburb. Only severe weather events, such as strong winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms, hail and tropical cyclones, will trigger a warning.

UBIMET meteorologists analyse radar and satellite imagery and use the best weather forecast data available from around the world to issue the alerts. The types of warnings that they issue include strong winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms, hail and tropical cyclones.

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6 tips for safe travel during severe weather.

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DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 20, 2019: A rain-covered window obscures the view through a terminal window ... [+] (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Traveling during severe weather can be nerve-wracking, as travel delays and safety risks may occur. However, several steps can help you prepare for inclement weather and seek shelter at various destinations.

Use Travel Weather Apps

Downloading a travel-friendly weather app can provide forecasts and weather alerts for your destination and route.

Below are four of the best travel weather apps:

  • American Red Cross Emergency App : This free app is entirely free and lets you customize 40 different weather alerts and receive real-time notifications. Retrieve step-by-step guides for the particular weather event and find American Red Cross shelters with an in-app map.
  • Drive Weather : This app highlights weather conditions for your road trip route. It also includes the temperature, wind, and radar. It can adjust your forecast based on your driving speed and plan speeds to view a colorful, user-friendly map. There are free and paid versions.
  • Sitata : International travelers stand to gain the most from 24/7 notifications from global news and social media regarding flight delays, disease outbreaks, civil unrest, and transit strikes. It can also connect you with a virtual doctor when you need medical guidance and send travel updates to loved ones. Most features are free to use, including the critical travel safety news.
  • Weather Channel App : This free mobile app provides weather forecasts and travel planning tools for U.S. and international destinations. It also offers various guides to help users plan different summer or winter trips and address weather-related health symptoms.

The apps mentioned above are available for Android and iOS devices and can supplement your existing local weather app and preferred travel apps.

Pack A Weather Radio

A NOAA weather radio transmits emergency alerts near your current location. These radios are helpful at home and while traveling as they prevent coverage gaps if your phone doesn’t receive location-based weather alerts or you can’t tune into a local news broadcast.

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Further, weather radios are relatively inexpensive and cost as little as $30. For example, the highly-rated Midland WR120B NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio can provide alerts for up to 60 hazards and emergencies. It monitors seven NOAA channels, can be locally programmed, and has an alarm clock. Finally, it only requires three AAA batteries.

Bring Extra Provisions

It’s wise to carry extra food, water and travel gear that make a difference in case you’re stranded or stores close. These supplies can easily squeeze into a car kit or a carry-on and you can consume the snacks once you return home or are out of harm’s way.

Extra clothing layers are vital during cold weather travel to stay warm. During hot weather, bring plenty of fluids to remain hydrated and have a shade source.

Tornado Safety Tips

The United States tornado season typically runs from March to July. The spring months are typically the most active, with frequent weather swings.

While tornadoes can happen anywhere, they are most prevalent in “Tornado Alley” in the Great Plains and Midwest. Active states include:

The Deep South states of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are also increasingly susceptible to tornadoes and hail storms.

When traveling, enable Wireless Emergency Alerts on your cell phone for location-based warnings. Additionally, check for warnings from the National Weather Service or local media social media pages during the trip or when you see a gloomy sky.

In an active tornado threat, go to the lowest floor and avoid glass windows. For optimal safety, look for a wooden frame or cinder block construction with a small roof instead of mobile homes, RVs, or campers.

Avoid buildings with long roofs that grocery stores, discount stores, malls, and airport terminals typically have, as they are relatively weak in damaging winds. These locations should have a fortified storm shelter for such events.

If you find yourself driving during severe weather, consider pulling over and looking for rest areas or truck stops with storm shelters. Remember to avoid windows, stay low, and cover your head if you remain in the car.

Contrary to popular belief, avoid climbing to the top of highway overpasses as the wind tunnel effect intensifies in the narrow area along with being higher than ground level. Instead, remain in your vehicle or tuck into a ditch or ravine for protection and to avoid flying debris.

Hurricane Travel Safety Tips

Thankfully, modern weather forecasting technology can predict hurricanes and intense storms well in advance. Peak hurricane season is usually in the fall, although a heightened risk exists from June 1 to November 30 on the Atlantic coast and between June 15 and November 30 for the eastern Pacific.

During a hurricane or tropical storm, remain on high ground or in an upper-floor room without windows. If outside, avoid standing under or near trees, as branches and debris will inevitably fall.

When driving, turn around on flooded roads as the depth can be deeper than anticipated. It’s also advisable to only drive during daylight for optimal visibility.

You may also familiarize yourself with your hotel or resort’s storm policy and evacuation procedures.

Blizzard Travel Safety Tips

Winter storms and blizzards can also pose a risk to experienced travelers. If driving, slow down and consider getting a hotel room if the driving becomes too hazardous until the plows clear the roads and weather conditions improve.

If stuck on the road, the National Weather Service suggests only running the vehicle for 10 minutes per hour and opening a car window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. It also recommends keeping an interior dome light on or marking your vehicle with a bright cloth for first responders to easily spot it and come to assistance.

Final Thoughts

Even with today's advanced warning systems, severe weather can strike when you least expect it. Preparing for different travel situations can avert disaster, as you may be able to stop and let the storm pass before resuming. Utilizing life-saving apps and carrying essential supplies are well worth the investment if the unexpected happens.

Geoff Whitmore

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  1. RAC Travel Insurance

    Active travel alerts. Worldwide events may impact coverage for new travel insurance purchases, or affect your travel plans for policies already purchased. ... (ABN 80 000 438 291 AFSL 246 548) is the issuer of RAC Travel Insurance. The 'RAC Travel Insurance - Combined Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement' ...

  2. Travel Advisory Updates

    Office of the Spokesperson. April 19, 2021. State Department Travel Advisory Updates. In order to provide U.S. travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions, the Department of State regularly assesses and updates our Travel Advisories, based primarily on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ...

  3. Summer UK holiday traffic chaos warning

    The RAC says around 12.6 million leisure trips by road will take place between Friday and Monday, causing "bumper-to-bumper traffic" and there are also expected delays at ports and warnings of ...

  4. Travel Insurance

    Relax and enjoy your holiday with RAC's premium travel insurance. Provides a wide range of benefits and the highest level of cover. Cover for when you're travelling within Australia. Applies to travel 250km away from residential home. Be prepared against unexpected medical costs, cancellations, lost or damaged luggage, and personal liability ...

  5. Travel Advisories

    TRAVEL ADVISORIES AND ALERTS: THE DETAILS Enroll in STEP. Subscribe to get up-to-date safety and security information and help us reach you in an emergency abroad. Recommended Web Browsers: Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. Learn about your destination.

  6. RAC Travel Insurance

    Once registered, set up your password and complete your claim details by answering all sections. Once submitted, your claim will be assessed within 10 working days. Alternatively, you can call RAC ...

  7. M5 Traffic News, Updates & Travel Information

    The flow of M5 traffic is likely to be impacted by some of the major roadwork schemes planned in future years. The best advice is to stay on top of M5 travel news to be aware of likely delays and tailbacks. Existing and forthcoming M5 major roadworks include: M5 Junctions 4a to 6 - this project got underway in January 2016. The improvements are ...

  8. A1 Traffic News, Updates & Travel Information

    A1 Traffic News. The A1 is the longest numbered road in the UK. It spans over 410 miles in length and stretches from London to Edinburgh. It was designed by the Ministry of Transport in 1921 and over decades the route has been modified with parts given motorway status (A1M). The A1 passes through 17 counties including, Greater London ...

  9. Traffic News

    Live Traffic Reports. It's simple to get live RAC traffic reports for your area, which means you'll always stay informed about delays, slow-moving traffic and any other incidents that could affect your journey. Select the 'Location' tab and you'll be able to get traffic news for your location by adding your postcode, city or town. You ...

  10. Travel and Touring

    1300 655 179. Enquire now. Travel and cruise deals. Cruises. Rail. RAC Exclusive Holidays. WA holidays. Our holiday parks & resorts. UBDs and WA maps.

  11. 9 Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them| RAC WA

    A recent RAC survey found almost 30 per cent of members had either fallen victim to a scam while holidaying overseas or had a scam attempt made, with many reporting credit card fraud or currency exchange scams. Being far from home and our familiar surroundings and support systems, can naturally make us more vulnerable - as can jetlag.

  12. RAC Travel Insurance

    Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co Ltd (ABN 80 000 438 291 AFSL 246 548) is the issuer of RAC Travel Insurance. The 'RAC Travel Insurance - Combined Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement' (PDS) which includes the policy wording, is available here.Any financial advice provided by RAC which is set out above is general in nature only, and does not take into account your ...

  13. Live traffic updates for your whole journey

    Google Maps. As well as displaying live traffic information in it's journey planning and navigation tools, Google Maps has a dedicated commute feature in it's apps, informing you of delays and alternative routes for your daily commute. Google Maps website Download the Google Maps app.

  14. Travel Updates

    Travel alerts (breaking news) Updates on active major incidents that may impact your journey. Travelling later? Build your own traffic report about issues on our network that may impact your journey now or in the future. Daily closure report. Advance notification of full closures on England's network. Now filterable online (.XLS file still ...

  15. Route Planner

    © Automobile Association Developments Ltd. 2018 . uk breakdown; european breakdown; motorbike breakdown; report a breakdown; insurance; car insurance; home insurance ...

  16. PDF Travel Insurance

    About RAC RAC Travel Services (ABN 17 009 164 176 AR 228 577) (RAC) wants You, Your family and loved ones to be safe when You travel. The first priority is to members. RAC has partnered with Tokio Marine & Nichido to offer You 24 hour emergency assistance and protection when You travel overseas, as well as quality care for Trips taken within ...

  17. PDF Travel Insurance

    About RAC RAC Travel Services (ABN 17 009 164 176 AR 228 577) (RAC) wants You, Your family and loved ones to be safe when You travel. The first priority is to members. RAC has partnered with Tokio Marine & Nichido to offer You4 hour emergency assis 2 tance and protection when vel overseas, as well as quality care for You tra Trips taken within ...

  18. RAC Insurance severe weather alerts service

    Severe Weather Warning alerts. Severe weather is the number one cause of property damage in Australia. Be prepared and protect yourself with RAC's Severe Weather Warning alerts tailored to your suburb. Get advance notice of severe weather events in your area with RAC's Severe Weather Warning alerts. Alerts will be sent to you via email or text ...

  19. Travel alerts

    For information about other traffic alerts active on our network please visit Traffic England. The highest priority incidents and closures for the motorway and trunk road network in England.

  20. M25 Traffic News

    M25 Traffic News. The notorious M25 is the second longest city bypass in Europe at 117 miles in length. It orbits Greater London, starting at the Dartford Crossing, and flows past a total of 33 junctions. It links motorways such as the M1, M4, A1, and the M40 making it a big part of the major road network in the UK and also one of the busiest.

  21. M6 Traffic News, Updates & Travel Information

    M6 Junction 10 - a major scheme is planned to start in 2018, ending in 2020. The aim is to reduce congestion and queues. M54 to M6/M6 Toll - there is a proposal for a new link road between the M54 and the M6. The proposed start of construction is Spring 2021, with an end date of Spring 2024. The plan is to reduce traffic congestion on three ...

  22. Roadwatch traffic news

    Plus, get real-time traffic information about delays and incidents along the way. If you're running low on fuel, you can find the nearest and cheapest place to top up. And if you need a parking space, we know just the spot. All you have to do is set the filters for the kind of parking you want, and away you go. Once you've found a space, our ...

  23. 6 Tips For Safe Travel During Severe Weather

    Additionally, check for warnings from the National Weather Service or local media social media pages during the trip or when you see a gloomy sky. In an active tornado threat, go to the lowest ...

  24. Disrupting Irregular Migration: Best Practices in Response to Recent

    The Departments of State, Homeland Security, and the Treasury jointly issued this alert to notify airlines, air charter operators, travel agents, and service providers of the ways in which migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks are exploiting legitimate transportation services to facilitate irregular migration to the United States.

  25. M4 Traffic News, Updates & Travel Information

    M4 Traffic News. The M4 is a motorway that runs from London, all the way to south Wales, stretching across the west of the UK. It opened in 1961, and was completed in 1996. The M4 carries over 130,000 vehicles every day, according to data from Highways England. The starting point for it is Chiswick, and it ends at Pont Abraham in Carmarthenshire.