British motorists searching for places to take a break

RAC launches ‘Right to Picnic’ campaign, calling for improved roadside rest and picnic facilities.

Motorists looking for places to take a roadside break this Bank Holiday weekend will be faced with grim, inadequate, or non-existent facilities on many UK roads say members of RAC, which is calling for an urgent review of what’s on offer.

RAC asked its members to vote for the five worst stretches of road when it comes to picnic and rest areas in a bid to highlight the problem, which shows the UK up as the poor relation to other European countries when it comes to provision of decent places to park, rest and eat.

RAC’s poll* of over 4000 members identified the UK’s top 5 worst offenders:

1.    M25 (Junctions 6-15) – RAC members complained about the lack of any rest stops on this stretch of road between Kent and Surrey.

2.      A1 – Although people complained about various stretches on the A1, the section between Newcastle and Edinburgh was found to be particularly unpopular.

3.      A303 – This South-West route was singled-out for its poor lay-by provision.

4.      A14 The section west of Ipswich was identified as particularly lacking in sufficient picnic stops.

5.      A9 – There’s beautiful Highland scenery, but a lack of anywhere to enjoy it on the stretch of road between Perth and Inverness.

Dirty toilets, overflowing bins and a lack of seating top the list of complaints. Consequently, one in four people surveyed rarely, if ever, take advantage of rest areas in the UK.

Commenting on the campaign RAC spokesman, Erik Nelson, said: “With the bank holiday approaching and the threat of the ash cloud continuing to loom, chances are that many people will be opting for UK destinations reached by car. The opportunity to take a break and enjoy a picnic in the sunshine on your way to your holiday or day trip destination is a nice idea but there is also a serious safety consideration here.

“Motorists are currently held to ransom by pricey roadside stops on motorways or grim, narrow lay-by provision on smaller roads. It’s vital that motorists have regular breaks and these need to be taken in safe, clean and convenient stops. As a result of our members concerns we’re petitioning for enhanced, improved facilities at the roadside and I urge motorists to get involved.”

Motorists are being encouraged to sign the ‘Right to Picnic’ petition online at, so RAC can lobby the government to provide more roadside picnic stops and better facilities at those already in existence. The campaign’s website also provides a forum for motorists to share their best and worst roadside stops with a picnic spot finder to guide motorists to the few pleasant areas they can take a break mid-journey.

According to the poll, it seems you’re better off heading abroad if you’re a motorist who’s partial to a picnic; two-thirds of motorists think British picnic spots are poor compared with those of our European neighbours.

When members were asked what constituted a good rest spot, good quality toilets came out top (95%), followed by cleanliness (84%), tables and seating (48%), picturesque scenery (35%), and a children’s play area (30%).

Commenting further on the findings, Erik Nelson, RAC spokesperson, added: “Motorists aren’t looking for swish facilities, outdoor barbecues or top-of-the range play areas. They just want the basics taken care of when en route, so clean toilets in a litter free lay-by with some seating and a safe place for the kids to play.

“It’s so important that motorists are encouraged to take regular stops with at least one break every two hours. Everyone should have the opportunity to stop, rest and recharge in a pleasant environment. Unfortunately, for many motorists, that won’t be an option this bank holiday.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

For further information, please contact:

Lucy Haughey, RAC Press Office, 01603 688 891, 07800 690149,

Erik Nelson, RAC Press Office, 01603 682264, 07989 427086,

Joe Dawes, Hill and Knowlton, 0207 413 3122,

*An RAC survey asking members for their opinions on UK roadside facilities was conducted in April 2010. 4415 RAC members took part.

About RAC

With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK’s most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it’s roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – RAC is able to meet motorists’ needs.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates’ UK Roadside Assistance Study for the last three years and the top named service organisation in the July 2009 UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005.  The acquisition brings together RAC’s powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Aviva UK Insurance (formerly Norwich Union Insurance). Aviva is the UK’s largest insurer with a market share of around 15 per cent.

RAC is part of Aviva, the world’s fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries.

RAC’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at