AAA: Record road travel will pack Idaho highways starting Thursday

May 24, 2019

Idaho roads will be filled to record capacity over the Memorial Day weekend, according to projections by AAA Idaho.

The association predicts that nearly 230,000 Idahoans will travel 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and Monday, and 202,000 will go by car. Memorial Day travel could be the second-highest on record, with driving taking up a larger percentage of travel than usual.

The busiest travel times will be Thursday afternoon and Friday morning as vacationers commingle with commuters.

“People are starting to get an early jump on (the weekend) and hope that they’re going to out-think everyone else,” AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde told the Times-News in a phone interview.

Monday isn’t expected to be as busy, because returning travel is split between Sunday and Monday.

Drivers should plan to add another 10-12% to their travel time, Conde said. Also, expect more trailers and recreational vehicles on the roads as people kick off not only the travel season but the camping season as well. North-south state highways such as Idaho 55 and U.S. 93 could be particularly busy, Conde said.

If you want to beat the traffic, you could plan on leaving a little earlier in the day. But it isn’t a guarantee.

“Do what makes sense to you,” he said. “Don’t kill yourself to get up at 4 in the morning.”

Drivers can also prepare for a smoother trip by checking their engine fluids, doing a pre-trip battery inspection and checking tire conditions, Conde said. Those are the top three things that drive roadside assistance calls to AAA on holiday weekends.

Gas prices, meanwhile, have hovered around $3.20 per gallon on average for a gallon of regular gas in Idaho. That’s been the case since May 15, which is a good sign that prices are leveling off, Conde said. Statewide gas prices are higher than 2018 levels, and the most expensive since 2014 when they hit an average $3.61 per gallon. But they are unlikely to interfere with most holiday travel plans, he said.

According to AAA Idaho, in Twin Falls, the average gas price Wednesday afternoon was $3.24; up 30 cents from a month ago and 13 cents higher than a year ago.

People traveling by airplane to connecting flights can also expect more traffic in airports. The Los Angeles and San Francisco airports will be busiest Friday and Saturday, and Seattle’s airport will be busiest on Memorial Day.

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