Record-breaking Memorial Day holiday travel expected

Local News
Cars, traffic, traffic jam, freeway, highway, congestion_3307918844590921-159532

Like Local 3 News on Facebook:

Dearborn, Mich.  — Memorial Day signals the beginning of the summer travel season. It also signals a higher risk time for unsafe driving, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities. In a unified effort to help prevent traffic deaths and injuries, AAA Michigan, the Detroit Tigers, Michigan State Police and local law enforcement agencies have teamed up to promote a safer summer.

AAA and the Michigan State Police are partnering on Operation C.A.R.E. or Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts. The purpose of this initiative is to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes caused by dangerous driving behaviors. Operation C.A.R.E. banners will be up at 54 rest areas across the state during Memorial Day weekend, July 4th holiday and Labor Day weekend.  Many volunteer groups will be at the rest stops serving coffee, in cups featuring the Operation C.A.R.E. logo, and also providing traffic safety information.

“We are proud to partner with the Michigan State Police to bring attention to the need for all drivers to be alert behind the wheel,” said Heather Drake, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs, AAA Michigan. “This awareness effort emphasizes the need for all motorists to avoid distracted driving and take a break every two hours.  Last year during the three summer holidays a total of 38 lives were lost on Michigan roads.  We hope to make our roads safer this summer season through this awareness campaign.”

Speakers also covered the following issues: impaired driving prevention, safety belt use, teen driver safety, distracted driving prevention, safe boating, underage drinking prevention, speed limit compliance and various new programs that support summer safety.  AAA provided Michigan’s travel projections for the Memorial Day weekend.

Nearly 1.3 million Michiganders will start their summers off on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway.  This reflects a 3.3 percent increase in travelers compared to last year and is the largest number in almost 15 years.  More than 1.1 million of those traveling will be hitting the road.

Michigan Travel Trends

2019 marks Michigan’s:

  • Seventh consecutive year of growth in Memorial Day travel with 3.3% more travelers than last year.
  • Second highest travel volume on record for this holiday since 2005, when there were nearly 1.5 million Michigan travelers.


  • The vast majority of travelers – more than 1.1 million – will hit the road this Memorial Day holiday, over 3% more than last year.


  • Over 70,000 people will travel by air, close to a 5% increase and the seventh year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

This long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking national holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000, trailing only the bar set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6% increase nationally.

Despite a rising national gas price average that is inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. For these motorists, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes.

Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road
For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C., could see three times the delay.

Worst Days/Times to Travel

Metro AreaWorst Day for TravelWorst Time for TravelDelay Multiplier of Normal Trip
AtlantaThursday, May 234:30 – 6:30 PM2.2x
ChicagoFriday, May 243:30 – 5:30 PM3.0x
DetroitFriday, May 242:30 – 4:30 PM1.7x
Los AngelesFriday, May 244:30 – 6:30 PM1.0x
New YorkThursday, May 234:45 – 6:45 PM2.0x
Washington, D.C.Monday, May 273:45 – 5:45 PM3.0x

Higher gas prices won’t keep holiday travelers home

Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the Michigan average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.87 on May 19, 2019), which is slightly less than prices this time last year ($3.01 on May 19, 2018). However, 88% of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

“When gas prices are expensive, travelers may shorten the distance of a road trip, eat out less or look for free activities,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA Michigan. “But, overall, prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, they aren’t letting that deter them from taking summer road trips.”


Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.