It’s almost Memorial Day weekend, which means you can cue the sunshine, backyard barbecues, and, of course, holiday traffic.
This holiday weekend will see the second-highest travel volume on record (behind only 2005), according to AAA, as nearly 43 million people will be planning on getting away.
An additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails, and runways compared with last year — a 3.6 percent increase — as consumer spending remains strong and people peg travel as a priority in their budgets, AAA officials said.
And despite a rising national gas price average, the vast majority of holiday travelers — 37.6 million, or more than 87 percent — are planning to drive.
“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 of 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.”
So when is the best time to avoid traffic?
Nationwide, AAA and INRIX, a transportation analytics company, predict drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
“Drivers in the most congested metros should expect much worse conditions than normal,” said Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst for INRIX. “Travelers should anticipate delays to start on Wednesday and continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.”
In Boston, the expected worst time to drive would be Monday from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. During that time, when people are returning from their relaxing weekends, the average trip could be three times longer than normal, according to AAA and INRIX, a transportation analysis firm.
It’s not the case for all cities, though: New York’s busiest time will be 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Thursday according to the predictions, while other cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles are expected to see peak times Friday afternoon.