CHARLOTTE – AAA Carolinas projects an estimated 1,300,000 North Carolinians and 615,000 South Carolinians will travel this Memorial Day weekend (a 3.6% increase from last year), the highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000.
“While gas prices have been up and down across the Carolinas, they are shaping up to be around 15-to-20 cents cheaper than last Memorial Day weekend, so we expect many Carolinians to hit the road to celebrate the long weekend,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “For those of you getting behind the wheel, please practice safety by obeying traffic safety laws, putting away all distractions and focusing your attention on the road.”
North Carolina’s gas price average in 2018 was $2.80, and South Carolina’s was $2.65. As of May 20, North Carolina’s average was $2.62 and South Carolina’s was $2.45.
Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road
For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts 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. INRIX expects travel delays on major roads to be more than three times longer than normal.
Increased danger on the roads
Over the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, there were 3,462 reported crashes in North Carolina, resulting in 17 fatalities and 1,009 reported collisions resulting in eight fatalities in South Carolina. Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period when teen traffic deaths historically rise, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. It runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Last year, there were 10,609 teen-related collisions resulting in 31 fatalities in North Carolina and 1,008 collisions resulting in 501 injuries and 12 fatalities in South Carolina.
Travelers to see relief in lower hotel and car rental costs
While road trippers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, some of that additional expense can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are between 2% and 3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties. Meanwhile, airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip price of $171.