Drivers are being warned to expect delays this afternoon and evening as the nation dashes off on holiday on so-called 'frantic friday'.

It is estimated that an extra 3.8 million drivers will take to the roads for leisure trips today as the majority of schools in Wales and England break up for summer holidays, and air and sea ports are also braced for a spike in travellers with an estimated 2.5 million holidaymakers heading overseas from the UK.

Motoring organisation the RAC say the worst times to travel this weekend include between 2pm and 5.30pm on Friday, 11.30am to 1pm on Saturday and 12pm to 1pm on Sunday.

Traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: "This weekend tends to be one of the busiest on the roads for leisure journeys, second only to Easter and Christmas.

"On some popular routes this may well mean gridlock, especially through the second half of Friday, when commuters and holidaymakers will be sharing space on the same stretches of the UK's roads.

"As a result, it will almost certainly feel like a frantic Friday for some."

The motoring organisation was urging motorists to perform checks on their cars before setting off - to avoid adding to the weekend traffic misery.

"It’s essential drivers know their vehicles are up to the job before setting off on a long drive – there are few worse ways to start a summer holiday than being stuck at the side of the road.

"A 10 minute check of the condition of the tyres on a car (and on a trailer or caravan if you have one), and of the oil and coolant levels, could save hours of misery.”

Meanwhile the AA were warning motorists to take extra precautions to deal with potential breakdowns in the getaway traffic.

"If your car breaks down your air conditioning might not work either," the organisation's president, Edmund King, said.

"So make sure you have plenty of drinking water in the car, especially if you have young or elderly family members with you."

The Met Office indicated there would be some relief for stressed out travellers with the heatwave expected to give way to rain and lower temperatures today, with cooler conditions continuing into the weekend.