The Ultimate Memorial Day Weekend Driving Guide: 10 Helpful Safety Tips. Time-Saving Hacks and Useful Statistics to Know

Nearly 43 million Americans will begin their summers on a high note with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. This extended holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of the summer holiday season will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA started tracking holiday travel volumes dating back to 2000, trailing only the bar set in 2005. Overall, an extra 1.5 million more people will take into the country’s roads, rails, and runways in comparison to last year, a 3.6percent increase.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research from IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of the forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is described as the five days from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.

Despite a rising national gas price average that’s inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. For these drivers, INRIX, a global transportation analytics firm, expects travel accidents on major roads could be over three times more than average during evening commutes.

“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, 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.”

2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast

  • Automobiles: The large majority of travelers — 37.6 million — will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5percent over last year.
  • Planes: 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8percent over last year, next only to 2005.
  • Trains, Buses, and Cruise Ships: Traveling across these sectors will increase by 3.8percent to 1.9 million passengers.


Drivers Should Beware of the Worst Times to Hit The Road on Memorial Day 2019

For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by car, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will have the best amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 at the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and blend with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a regular trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C., could see three times the delay.


“Drivers in the most congested metros should expect much worse conditions than normal,” said Trevor Reed, transport analyst, 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.”


10 Helpful Memorial Day Driving Safety Tips

The unofficial kick-off for summer, Memorial Day weekend is one of the most significant for traffic, which translates into more car, truck, or motorcycle accidents. More than 470 people died during Memorial Day weekend in 2009, the latest year for which such information can be obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Protect your family with these Memorial Day safety tips from the NHTSA:

  1. Avoid alcohol.  Alcohol and driving is always a bad combination. Each day, almost 30 people in the U.S. perish in a motor-vehicle crash between an alcohol-impaired driver. If you’ve got teen drivers, learn how to speak to them about alcohol. Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternative transportation. Impairment begins with the first drink.
  2. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated.  If Memorial Day weekend means a road trip for you and the gang, ensure that your tires are prepared to endure the marathon. A hot travel surface may take its toll.
  3. Check Your Windshield.  Ensure that your opinion is clear and your wipers are in good shape. A sudden summer storm will hinder visibility more quickly if there’s a coat of dirt or dust on the windshield.
  4. Never Leave Children Unattended.  Do not leave your children in the car, even if you’re only running to the shop for sunscreen. Temperatures inside a vehicle can increase to deadly levels fast.
  5. Stay Well Rested.  To remain alert on your trip, get a lot of rest before you depart. Allow a lot of time to get to your destination to prevent aggravation, and keep yourself hydrated by bringing water with you. Get a lot of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
  6. Watch Out for the Other Driver.  Defensive driving is all about situational awareness. Pay attention to everything on the road. If you find another driver makes a mistake, get prepared to get out of the way and prevent an accident.
  7. Pick a Safer Road.  Toll Roads are among the safest roads in the USA. Toll authorities know their customers expect a higher maintenance standard and tolls provide them the funds to deliver on that promise. Toll Roads have security cameras and teams that continuously monitor the roadway to react quickly to an accident.
  8. Choose The Less Congested Route.  Now’s electronic toll collection systems allow you to cover your ride without slowing down or waiting in line. With All Digital Toll collection (AET), stopping at a toll booth is something of the past.
  9. Know the Upcoming Weather Forecast.  With so much extreme weather growing across the country, know the expected weather at the locations you’re traveling this holiday weekend so that you may be better prepared for the very best and safest routes
  10. Always Use Child Safety Seats.  Ensure children are restrained in safety seats that are appropriate for their height, age, and weight.


Waze says Los Angeles is one of the cities which saw the most significant traffic increases.

Are you wondering ‘When not to drive this Memorial Day Weekend’? If you are in California beware because Los Angeles saw an 11% rise in drivers and a 10% slowdown in traffic almost daily, from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. In San Francisco, drivers could see the worst traffic on Saturday, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Higher Gas Prices Sure Won’t Keep Memorial Day Travelers Home

Gas prices have risen by over 30 cents in the past two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.86 on May 14, 2019), which will be relatively on par with prices this time last year ($2.87 on May 14, 2018). However, 88 percent of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this season, the most on record.

“When gas prices are high, travelers may shorten the distance of a road trip, eat out less or look for free activities,” said AAA gas cost expert Jeanette Casselano. “But, overall, prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, they aren’t letting that deter them from taking summer road trips.”

Travelers Might See Relief in the Reduced Hotel and Car Rental Prices

While road trippers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, some of the extra cost can be made up with lower prices on car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental costs have declined 7 percent compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range resorts are between 2% and 3 percent cheaper annually, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties. Meanwhile, Tours are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average roundtrip cost of $171.

Over 400 Roadway Deaths Estimated During Memorial Day Weekend For Second Straight Year

National Safety Council estimates indicate that 402 people might be killed on the roads during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday period. It’s the second consecutive year the Council has forecast over 400 roadway deaths over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. NSC also estimates 45,800 people might be injured on the roads during the three-day holiday period, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday, May 25, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 28.

Summer has been a mortal period on the roads, and the warm-weather holidays are even deadlier. In comparison to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the three summer holidays — Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day — typically claim over 110 lives every day, the highest average per-day fatality rates. The NSC has identified two main factors associated with Memorial Day weekend deadly collisions:

  • Seat belt use: Approximately 250 lives might be spared this holiday weekend if all vehicle occupants wear their seat belts. According to NHTSA, 10,076 people who were killed in passenger vehicle crashes in 2017 weren’t buckled.
  • Drunk driving: Alcohol-related driving deaths grow significantly in this period. In 2016, 36 percent of deaths over Memorial Day weekend included an alcohol-impaired driver. It is simple; do not drink and drive. Plan your ride home in your event beforehand. Many communities and regions provide sober-ride programs. AAA, for example, provides a nationally Tipsy Tow program. 

Memorial Day Weekend Driving Tips for Truckers

The Memorial Day weekend is typically thought of as the official start of summer.

Many families whose children have ended up their college years take this weekend to go on holiday. Unfortunately, a number of them do not have their minds.

So what can you as a professional truck driver do to safeguard yourself, your rig, and your cargo in this heavy traffic period?

Here are some specific strategies for professional truck drivers.


  • Remember what you are being paid for: the safe and timely pick-up and delivery of cargo.
    • This includes all your bobtail and deadhead miles, also.
    • Do not risk being involved in a road rage incident, even if another vehicle (or heaven forbid another large truck) cuts you off.
  • Throughout your pre-trip inspection, be particularly mindful of your truck’s fluid levels and the pressure on your tires, particularly in hot areas.
    • You don’t need to risk overheating your engine or using a blown tire.
  • Reduce the number of times you change lanes whenever possible, but be mindful of truck lane restrictions.
  • If you have to change lanes, always use your turn signal. Blink for a minimum of three full seconds and use 7 seconds to make your move. This is known as the 10-second rule.
  • Always use your turn signal if you’re making a RIGHT turn.
    • Use your flashers for times when you are traveling at 40 mph or lower on roads where the speed limit is higher than that.
  • Modify your driving based on conditions, particularly in heavy traffic, poor weather, or construction zones.
    • Holiday traffic, like on Memorial Day weekend, can be particularly heavy.
  • Minimize distractions inside your truck.
    • Never participate in texting behind the wheel of a big rig.
    • Limit your mobile phone use to that which is legal and preferably to a bare minimum. If you have to use one while driving, use a hands-free device for mobile phones.
  • Watch your following distance behind the car in front of you.
    • Do not tailgate expecting to get the individual before you to accelerate. Most likely that kind of”intimidation” won’t get the driver to go any faster and will improve your chances of being involved in an accident. Some drivers are mean enough to allow you to get close and then slam on the brakes. When that happens, the ticket and repair invoices will be yours. You run the risk of physical injury, death, and possibly the loss of your job.
  • Watch for people following you too closely.
    • If you can, give the driver of the car behind you a chance (and an incentive) to maneuver.
    • There’s no sense being involved in an accident from behind if you’re able to avoid it.
    • Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to dissuade reverse lookup by slowing down and letting them come about.
  • Look on your side mirrors — both left and right — about every 8 to 10 seconds.
    • If you have fisheye kind convex mirrors mounted on the front corners of your tractor, do not forget to check at them, too, particularly for traffic coming from the trunk.
    • Do not just move your eyes; move your head.
    • Force yourself to look in the right mirror frequently.
  • Be sure that you steer clear of low clearances.
    • Even if your GPS unit says the road is OK, double-check the route in advance.
    • The Rand McNally Motor Carriers Road Atlas lists low clearances.
  • Memorial Day weekend or not, be mindful of distracted drivers and make allowances for others’ mistakes.
    • Some distracted drivers allow their vehicles to wander toward, on or over the lines of their own lane.
    • Expect the unexpected.
  • Be judicious in the use of your horn to warn other drivers if they are getting too close.
    • Take safety breaks, particularly if you feel yourself getting tired.
    • Always remember to park in secure and legal areas.
  • When backing up, get out and look as many times as is necessary to be sure that you don’t hit anything.
    • Remember to use your 4-way flashers to alert others to the fact that you are backing up.
    • It is a common courtesy.
  • Prepare ahead of time for emergencies.
    • Since Memorial Day is at the start of the summer driving season, it is a fantastic time to take stock of your emergency provisions.
    • Be sure you have all your reflective triangles, a fully charged fire extinguisher, a gallon all oil and coolant, a hazmat spill kit (if you haul hazmat), an emergency source of food and water, and a well-stocked first aid kit.
  • Do not forget to secure your loads properly, use locks where necessary, and assess your seals.
    • If you have to drop your trailer, be sure to secure it using a kingpin lock or gladhand lock.
    • Thieves do not care if it is Memorial Day or not; they are on the watch for drivers who’ve left their defenses down and steal whatever is not locked.


If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim who was injured due to an accident on Memorial Day weekend, call our offices at Arash Law. We will help you through this, call our offices at 888-488-1391 for more information or free consultation now.



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