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Monday, May 27, 2024

It’s going to be a madhouse out there during the Memorial Day weekend travel, so plan accordingly

HAMPTON ROADS — Believe it or not, Memorial Day is almost upon us and it marks the unofficial start of summer.

It’s also one of the national holidays when people hit the road and travel. AAA estimates that this year Americans will be travelling in near-record numbers, with as many as 41.5 million on the move this Memorial Day weekend, including some 36.6 million who will be driving.

That’s nearly a 5 percent increase over last year and the most in more than a dozen years.

Thursday and Friday are expected to be the days with the heaviest highway traffic as travelers mix with commuters on the already busy highways around Hampton Roads making travel delays two or three-times longer than usual.

AAA Tidewater estimates that more than a million Virginians will travel this weekend, the most since 2005.

“Road trips represent 89 percent of all travel for this holiday, despite higher gas prices,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs at AAA Tidewater. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season.”

AAA graphic gas prices
Gas prices could be more than 60-cents higher than last year at this same time (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of AAA Tidewater)

At this time gasoline prices are up nearly 60 cents from the same time last year according to AAA, but those prices could go even higher by the end of the week.

Car care tips

There are a few things you can do before heading out Memorial Day weekend. AAA recommends:

  • Check oil levels and oil condition.
  • Make sure battery terminals and cables are securely attached and free of corrosion.
  • Check levels of antifreeze/coolant in the radiator.
  • Check tire pressures and conditions (including the spare tire).
  • Make sure windshield wipers, lights, and signals are all in good working condition.

Safe driving tips

Heavier traffic and frustrated drivers means an increased risk for crashes. Ensure safe travels with a few simple habits:

  • Drive defensively: Always pay attention to other drivers and never assume they’ll react as you expect them to.
  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Never use your mobile device while driving.
  • Share driving duties if you become sleepy or fatigued.
  • Drive the speed limit, or slower in bad weather conditions.

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