Memorial Day travel expected to increase this year

May 21, 2013 12:00 AM

Memorial Day is right around the corner, and for many, it marks the unofficial start of summer. There's no better way to kick off this time of year than with a travel experience, and whether drivers are visiting family or heading to the beach, they'll want to make sure their car is ready to handle the rigors of a road trip.

This year may see an influx of people getting behind the wheel to start their holiday weekend. According to INRIX, a traffic information provider, Memorial Day traffic is expected to grow by 4 percent compared to last year.

The busiest day for road travel should be the Friday before the weekend. Cars should start flooding the roads starting around 1 p.m., with rush hour congestion beginning about two hours in advance of the normal time. To avoid this crowding, travelers should try to leave earlier in the day or later at night - before 12 p.m. or after 6 p.m. 

"Nothing is more frustrating than starting a holiday weekend sitting in traffic," said INRIX traffic analyst Jamie Holter. "Knowing exactly what to expect and how to avoid major delays will help you spend less time on the road and more time at your destination."

The afternoon of Memorial Day should be the most popular time for people to return home. Traffic could start building up starting at 2 p.m. and will likely continue until around 4 p.m. These driving patterns aren't exactly typical, so motorists should know that they may have to expect the unexpected as they set out to reach their destination during this long weekend. 

High temperatures and heavy congestion may lead to overheating in automobiles that haven't been checked beforehand. To prevent this problem from striking your car, be sure to get a car tune up that will confirm all aspects of the vehicle are working properly. You also may want to invest in that car air conditioning repair you've been putting off buying, especially if you anticipate taking long drives with young kids or pets. They can be particularly picky about their environment, and making sure the HVAC system is running smoothly will allow you to adjust to whatever their needs might be.

Other tips for an effortless driving experience include building extra time into a schedule to accommodate traffic jams and avoiding distracted driving at all costs. With so many people on the roads, there's no room for error, and you'll want to be completely focused on the situation at hand. 

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