Warnings for Memorial Day drivers

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and like last year my plan is to finish work that morning and enjoy the afternoon of sun at the grill. I’ll be crossing my fingers every day until we get a confirmation for clear Hampton Roads weather on May 28.

I’m not a Memorial Day traveler, but according to AAA, more than 41.5 million people across the country will be doing just that this year. That’s 5 percent more than the number that traveled last Memorial Day and the most in more than 12 years, per the press release.

It’s time for more than 1.6 million Virginian travelers this holiday to prepare for the inevitable delays. According to the press release, 36.6 million drivers across the country will be on the road this Memorial Day, and more than one million on Virginia roadways.

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INRIX and AAA predict the greatest amount of congestion to be on Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25, especially in the late afternoon as holiday drivers converge with commuters leaving work early.

The worst for D.C. drivers is expected to be that Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. with up to 2.3 times the delay, per the press release.

“Drivers should expect congestion across a greater number of days than in previous years, with the getaway period starting on Wednesday, May 23,” Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research for global transportation analytics company INRIX, stated in the press release. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commute times in major cities altogether — traveling late morning or early afternoon — or plan alternative routes.”

Complicating matters further are the most expensive Memorial Day gas prices since 2014. According to the release, gas prices averaged $2.72 in April, 33 cents more than last year. Record gasoline demand and a shrinking global supply do not bode well for motorists.

But there’s good news for those renting cars this holiday. The average daily cost of a car rental is $59, 11 percent cheaper than last year and the cheapest average rate in the past four years, per the press release.

Plan ahead for the roads this Memorial Day and stay safe behind the wheel. As for me, I’m planning ahead for less driving and more cheeseburgers and hot dogs.