Memorial Day travel may be a 14-year high

COLUMBUS — AAA expects the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005, with nearly 43 million Americans (nearly 1.7 million Ohioans) planning to travel at least 50 miles from home between Thursday, May 23 and Monday, May 27. This is an increase of 3.6 percent (3.3 percent in Ohio) and marks the second highest Memorial Day travel volume since AAA started tracking these numbers in 2000.

“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth. Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”

Ohio’s 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast:

Automobiles: More than 90 percent of Ohio travelers (1.5 million), will drive to their destinations this Memorial Day, 3.3 percent more than last year.

Planes: More than 90,000 Ohioans will fly this Memorial Day, 4.7 percent more than last year.

Trains, buses and cruise ships: Nearly 70,000 Ohioans will travel by these other means of transportation, 3.1 percent more than last year.

Navigating Traffic and Construction:

AAA, in collaboration with INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon, as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. During these times, travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal.

To avoid heavy traffic, travelers can avoid peak commute times in major cities. Instead, travel in the late morning or early afternoon, or plan alternative routes.

Ongoing and active construction projects will also impact traffic throughout the state, but ODOT will try to reduce their impact as much as possible over the holiday weekend. Last year, there were 4,662 work zone crashes. They resulted in 586 minor injuries, 103 serious injuries, and 14 deaths.

Get Road-Trip Ready:

With a record 37.6 million Americans driving this holiday, AAA expects to rescue more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside this Memorial Day weekend, including more than 15,000 motorists on Ohio’s roads. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.

Before hitting the road, motorists can get road-trip ready by having their vehicle battery tested, checking tire condition, and ensuring their car is up-to-date on routine maintenance. Be prepared for emergencies with an emergency roadside kit. This kit should include a mobile phone and car charger, flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

As part of the Click it or Ticket campaign, safety belt usage will be a primary focus of the Ohio State Highway Patrol during Memorial Day weekend. Last year in Ohio, 17 fatal crashes killed 18 people during the Memorial Day weekend. Of those fatalities, seven were unbelted. During the holiday weekend, troopers will be highly visible on Ohio’s roadways to encourage drivers to wear their safety belts.

Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months, with the national and Ohio averages approaching $3 a gallon. This is similar to last year when Ohio’s average gasoline price spiked just before Memorial Day, hitting a high of $2.91 on May 24, 2018.

Rates for car rentals and most mid-range hotels are also lower this year, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index: At $55, the average daily cost of a car rental this Memorial Day weekend is 7 percent lower than last year.


By Kimberly Schwind

Special to the Inquirer



Kimberly Schwind is a senior public relations manager |at AAA Ohio Auto Club