37 million expected to hit the road Memorial Day weekend

May 23, 2019 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Jim Davis says each year on the Friday before Memorial Day, his family takes their first small vacation of the year to North Carolina to visit relatives.

“It’s a three-day weekend for me anyway, but I take off Friday, too, so we can have an extra day to drive and hopefully avoid some of the traffic,” he said.

Davis will be one of the estimated 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, according to the annual AAA Memorial Day Travel Forecast.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion Thursday, May 23, and Friday, May 24, in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.


Overall, nearly 43 million Americans are expected to start their summers with a Memorial Day weekend getaway, according to the AAA forecast.

This year is expected to see the second-highest volume since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000. Overall, an additional 1.5 million people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6% increase nationwide, according to AAA.

“Following a long winter, Americans are excited to take advantage of a strong economy with a well-deserved vacation,” said Jim Lehman, president of AAA East Central. “Summer vacations are the best way to create lifelong memories with families and friends.”

Currently, gasoline prices on average in West Virginia are $2.694 per gallon, which is below the national average that is inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark.

Though travelers may be paying more at the pump, some of that cost could be made up in other ways, like car rental prices and hotels. According to AAA, car rental prices have declined 7% from last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Midrange hotels are between 2 and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, as well.

AAA says it expects to be called on to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts will be the leading reasons motorists will experience car trouble.

AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.