AAA: More than 1 million Virginians to travel for Memorial Day

AAA projects that 39.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day weekend. That is one million more travelers than last year taking to the roads, skies, rails and water, creating the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005. In Virginia, more than a million (1,105,615) will travel for the holiday weekend, a 2.6% increase in travelers compared to last year and most (89%) will drive to celebrate the extended weekend.

aaa“The expected increase in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “With gas prices still just over $2 per gallon in Virginia and consumer spending up, travelers are choosing to spend their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29.

With so many drivers hitting the roads for the holiday, AAA, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation and The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles are reminding everyone to slow down, drive distraction free, buckle up and put safety first.

Virginia State Police
“We know everyone will be hitting the roads to enjoy the beautiful summer days ahead, but we want travelers to arrive at their destination safely,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. “Buckle up, put the phone down, and please do the right thing when you see lights of any color on the roadside –Move Over or Slow Down. Doing these simple things could save a life.”

Virginia Department of Transportation
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is gearing up for holiday travel this Memorial Day weekend by lifting planned construction zones, offering historical and real-time travel data to assist in travel planning and augmenting Traffic Operations Center (TOC) and Safety Service Patrol (SSP) staffs to assist with roadway incidents.

The Memorial Day weekend lane closure lift will be in effect noon Friday, May 26, through noon on Tuesday, May 30, for easier travel. Where possible, most lane closures on major roadways will be suspended for drivers’ and workers’ safety.

Most traffic operations center staffs around the commonwealth will be augmented statewide to monitor travel conditions and respond to incidents. “Our staffs are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to monitor the roadways and offer motorist assistance,” said Marshall Herman, Acting Director of Communications for VDOT. “Travelers can plan ahead by using 511 Virginia to see the latest official information on traffic incidents, delays and check live camera feeds of major roadways.” 511 Virginia is available for free by downloading the mobile app, visiting www.511virginia.org or calling 511 from any Virginia phone.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is also sending a message by urging motorists to put safety first before traveling for the long holiday weekend. “Higher numbers of travelers on the Commonwealth’s highways means Memorial Day weekend is unfortunately always a deadly one in Virginia, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Virginia DMV Deputy Commissioner George Bishop. “As drivers, we must remember before taking our weekend trips to maintain a safe speed, avoid distractions, give someone else the keys if you have been drinking, and always buckle up – every seat, every trip.”

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day gas prices since 2015, the vast majority of holiday travelers nationwide (88.1 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 2.5 percent this Memorial Day, with 34.6 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. As of Monday, May 22, 2017, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.36, eight cents higher than last year while Virginia drivers paid $2.14 per gallon on average, just three cents higher than 2016.

Airfares, hotel and car rental rates on the rise
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average round trip ticket landing at $181. Hotel costs have also increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel costing $215, or 18 percent more than last year. Daily car rental rates will average $66, which is 7 percent more than last year.

AAA to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Memorial Day
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists nationwide this Memorial Day weekend and over 6,500 in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop such as AAA Car Care Insurance and Travel Centers or one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. AAA Car Care Insurance and Travel Centers within the Mid-Atlantic region are able to provide a free 42-point vehicle inspection for travelers before hitting the road. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.
AAA and Waze share perspectives on holiday travel
According to Waze, the free, real-time crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York are the busiest metro areas this Memorial Day weekend, based on last year’s accident and traffic jam data. For travelers visiting or driving through these cities, be aware of high traffic volumes on Thursday and Friday – New York City sees an average 27 percent increase in accident alerts on these two days.

Many Memorial Day vacationers traveling abroad this year
While the vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, many other Americans will take advantage of the long holiday weekend and travel internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. The top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA travel bookings, are:

Orlando, Florida
Rome, Italy
London, England
Dublin, Ireland
Vancouver, Canada
Seattle, Washington
Las Vegas, Nevada
New York, New York
Paris, France
Honolulu, Hawaii

According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Memorial Day are expected to be Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Orlando (MCO), Atlanta (ATL) and Denver (DEN), based on data from 2016.