AAA Carolinas projects an estimated 1,300,000 North Carolinians and 615,000 South Carolinians will travel this Memorial Day weekend, 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 is $2.62 and South Carolina’s is $2.45.
By the Numbers:
- 1,705,000 Carolinians will drive to their destinations, a 3.5% increase from last year.
- 139,000 Carolinians are taking to the skies this Memorial Day, increasing air travel by 4.8%.
- 70,800 Carolinians, an increase of 3.8% from 2018, will look to other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains, and buses.
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 May 23 and 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.
Top Memorial Day travel destinations, based on AAA Carolinas Travel bookings:
- Las Vegas
- Myrtle Beach
Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready.
Make a good B-E-T to stay on the road this summer by having your Battery tested, looking for Engine coolant leaks and checking Tire condition.
Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.