While the surge of Memorial Day weekend traffic will be somewhat less than has been traditional, estimates the American Automobile Association, lowering gas prices will lure more American onto highways than were out last year.
Travelers up 1.4 percent
According to AAA, there will be nearly 35 million U.S. travelers going 50 miles or more from home this coming weekend. The estimate also includes Thursday, for those fortunate travelers who have Friday free. Last year, that number was smaller by 1.4 percent.
AAA’s Tara Jones said:
“We were up last year after a few years of decline from the recession, so we’re starting to see people out and traveling more a little bit each year.”
Gas is down, but lodging is up, says AAA, making the cost of this year’s excursion about the same as last year for many. While the average price of gas is 25 cents lower than it was last year at this time, lodging is up by 8 percent on AAA’s list of Three Diamond motels and 10 percent on the Four Diamond list.
AAA also said that rental car rates are down by 4 percent this year, contributing to the numbers on the road.
Staying closer to home
Robert L. Darbelnet, the Chief executive Officer at AAA, said:
“The overall domestic economic picture continues to improve slightly, however, American consumers faced a new challenge this year as steadily increasing gas prices throughout the spring significantly squeezed many household budgets. Americans will still travel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, but many will compensate for reduced travel budgets by staying closer to home and cutting entertainment dollars.”
According to the report, ninety percent of travelers this year will go by highway. More than a fifth of them will be going 150 miles or less. Last year, the typical American traveler went about 792 miles. This year that will be down to 642 says the Auto Club.
“If the gas prices are effecting their holiday weekend budget, they will cut back and stay closer to home.”
There is also drop in air travel this year, down by 5.5 percent from 2011, due to increased fares. Those statistics contributed to the drop in the average distance traveled.
‘Click It Or Ticket’
Whether they are going a short distance or across several states, motorists are also warned to buckle up this season, as traffic officers will be out, actively looking to enforce “Click It Or Ticket” programs across the nation. Law enforcement officers will be especially vigilant for seat belt violators after dark, when the bulk of the violations occur.