Safety concerns noted as record number of S.C. residents travel over holiday weekend
Residents can expect to see more cars on the roadways for Memorial Day Weekend as AAA Carolinas predicts the highest volume of people traveling this holiday weekend on record since 2000.
In South Carolina, around 615,000 people are expected to travel, which is a 3.6 percent increase from 2018.
Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Spokesperson said gas is expected to be 15 to 20 cents cheaper than last year’s Memorial Day Weekend, which is big reason why so many people will be traveling compared with previous years.
Currently in South Carolina, the state average for a gallon of regular gas is $2.45. However, Aiken residents lucked out with some of the cheapest gas in the nation.
On Friday, residents could get a gallon of regular gas for $2.34 at Sam’s Club at 220 Jefferson Davis Highway, which was the cheapest reported gas in the area.
All the other gas stations around Aiken have gas prices anywhere between $2.34 and $2.40 a gallon for regular gas, according to GasBuddy.com.
AAA Carolinas reports that 539,000 South Carolinians will drive when they travel this year, a 3.5 percent increase from last year; 40,000 residents will be flying, a 4.8 percent increase; and 33,800 will being using “other” modes of transportation, a 3.8 percent increase.
All these extra people on the roadways and those flying mean there will more traffic and crowded airports. The worst times to hit the road for residents would be Thursday and Friday (late afternoon) – which is when drivers would expect to see the greatest amount of congestion.
INRIX, organization collaborating with AAA Carolinas, reported travel delays on major road are expected to be “more than three times longer than normal,” according to a release.
Driver safety for Memorial Day Weekend
Lt. Jake Mahoney, with Aiken Public Safety, said this extra traffic is going to cause back-ups and will be frustrating.
“Anyone planning on leaving Aiken to travel this Memorial Day Weekend need to be aware of what they are likely to run into – heavy traffic,” Mahoney said. “We ask that drivers be patient and plan out their driving times.”
He also wanted to remind residents that during times like this, when a large number of people are driving to other locations all at the same time, traffic accidents will likely happen more than usual.
Over Memorial Day Weekend in 2018, there were 1,009 reported vehicle collisions in South Carolina, resulting in eight fatalities, AAA Carolinas reports.
“Drivers should maintain focus on the road and be aware of those driving around you,” Mahoney said. “Look out for impaired drivers going over the road recklessly. Everyone in the vehicle should also be wearing their seat belts.”
He also explained that the smart thing to do before hitting the road would be to make sure the vehicle that will be used for traveling over the weekend is road-trip ready.
Drivers in the area are encouraged to have their battery tested, look for engine coolant leaks and check the condition of their tires before leaving Aiken County.
AAA Carolinas encouraged travelers to also 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.
This weekend also marks the beginning of the annual “100 Deadliest Days”, which is a period when teen traffic deaths historically rise, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The 100 Deadly Days will run from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported there will be extra South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers patrolling the roadways over the weekend. Troopers will we looking out for people speeding, not wearing seat belts and impaired drivers.
If anyone driving on South Carolina roadways this weekend witnesses an impaired driver, someone driving in a reckless manner or an emergency during their road trip – they are asked to call *HP (*47) to report what they see to SC Highway Patrol. This helps troopers respond to a situation quicker and allows them maintain safe roads for everyone.
Extra money-saving tips for drivers
Those who choose to travel by vehicle over Memorial Day Weekend will be paying more for gas than they typically would, but additional expenses for those travelers could be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2% and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively – for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties.
This information is compared with the current price of airfares, which are reportedly holding steady compared with last Memorial Day Weekend, for an average roundtrip price of $171, the release states.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a non-profit organization that serves more than 2.2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.