WASHINGTON, May 25, 2014 — This holiday weekend is likely to see higher traffic volume than usual, coupled with a higher police presence.
According to AAA, 36.1 million people are expected to travel at least 50 miles from their homes between May 22 and May 26 to take advantage of the long weekend. That is the highest number of travelers since 2005, when 44 million people traveled on Memorial Day Weekend.
AAA also says that most people will drive to their destinations this year.
A long, cold winter combined with excellent weekend weather and a slightly improved economy are encouraging American’s to get away this weekend. “I think everyone wants a bit of a break,” says Briana Crealy, a travel agent in South Florida, “People may not be going far, but they definitely are going somewhere.”
With extra cars on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises drivers to leave early and expect delays.
The Weather Channel reports that the weather outlook for most of the country is excellent, although the Great Plains could see heavy rains.
In the Midwest, expect some isolated storms on Monday, with mild temperatures all weekend. The forecast for the Indianapolis 500 is sunny and temperatures near 80 degrees.
The forecast for the Northeast is mostly sunny, with highs in the 60s and 70s and some scattered showers. Warmer temperatures are expected on Monday.
The South will be mostly sunny, although drought-stricken Texas and Oklahoma will see some showers. Some storms may produce hail and cause flash flooding. Temperatures throughout the South will be warm, with highs in the 80s and 90s.
Widely scattered storms are expected in the West, although it should be mostly sunny, with highs in the 70s and 80s in the Great Basin, 50s and 60s in the mountains, and 90s and 100s in the California valleys and Desert Southwest.
AAA says gas prices are expected to remain stable through the weekend. The lowest prices in the country are in Louisiana, at 3.375 a gallon, followed by Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Colorado. The most expensive is Hawaii, at 4.352. Also expensive are California, Washington, D.C., Alaska and Connecticut.
Police say they will provide extra officers this weekend to discourage speeding and drinking and driving. The period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” of driving for teenagers, with a disproportionately high number of deaths for teen drivers.
Authorities note, however, that all drivers, not just teens, are at risk, and they are increasing their presence to remind drivers to be safe. Programs such as “Arrive Alive” and “Click it or Ticket” are pushing their campaigns hard this year.
Many police will set up check points and sobriety posts near beaches, lakes, bars and other traditional Memorial Day destinations.
One officer in Delray Beach, Florida, noted that while some drivers see their actions as imposing on fun, it is quite the opposite, “Our goal is to let you have fun safely. We want you to be able to enjoy tomorrow as much as you enjoy today.”