Tips for dealing with increased traffic this Memorial Day

May 15, 2014 12:00 AM

For many people, Memorial Day weekend entails driving to another city or state to be with friends and family. In fact, according to The Legal Examiner, this holiday is second only to the Fourth of July in terms of the amount of car travel. A staggering 2.4 million automobiles were on the New York State Thruway alone in 2013, and the distance they traveled exceeded 82 million miles, the source reported. If you're planning on hitting the road in the days around May 26, then you may want to do some research about your route, as well as take care of any essential vehicle maintenance measures or much-needed tune up. That way, you can ensure a smooth, safe ride and an enjoyable holiday.

Major congestion ahead
A new annual reports from Intrix revealed some concerning forecasts for the roads Memorial Day weekend. The company's research determined a notable 25 percent upswing in traffic across a number of major U.S. cities, which means motorists will have to plan ahead. 

For example, Los Angeles, a city notorious for bad traffic, is predicted to experience a significant spike in traffic this upcoming holiday weekend compared to Memorial Day 2013. The source also revealed that traffic in L.A. was up 8.5 percent last year. So how can drivers get around it? Intrix recommended departing between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Friday, May 23, to avoid the morning as well as the late afternoon rush hour. Otherwise, the firm said it's best to head out after 7 p.m. when the roads clear out somewhat. If motorists are on the road at the peak of the rush between 3 p.m and 5 p.m., they can expect their trip to take almost 40 percent longer than usual. 

The forecast for New York is no better. Intrix noted that congestion was up 5 percent in 2013, with drivers wasting three more hours in gridlock than one year prior. The company suggested New Yorkers head out at the same times on Friday as drivers in Los Angeles, as traffic will be the worst between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

San Francisco is facing the same issue over Memorial Day, and Intrix found that congestion in the Bay area boosted by 13 percent last year. According to the firm, motorists' best bet is to leave before 12 p.m. on Friday or after 7 p.m. to dodge any major delays.

Washington D.C., which Intrix reported is the 10th most congested city in the country, is also expected to see an upswing in traffic. The enterprise had the same recommendations for drivers in D.C. as it did for San Francisco.

Other cities that Intrix predicted will see increased traffic included Seattle and Detroit.

Strategies for safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well as other agencies are urging motorists to take certain precautions as they plan their holiday road trips. The Legal Examiner reported that for the last six years, there has been an average of 11.5 percent more traffic-related fatal accidents during the Memorial Day weekend in comparison to other non-holiday periods, according to the National Safety Council. The NSC attributes this simply to an uptick in the amount of cars on the roads.

Like Intrix, The Legal Examiner emphasized that it's best to leave earlier in the day. That way, motorists are less at risk of speeding out of frustration. 

While it may seem obvious, the news outlet also stressed that it's crucial for the driver as well as all passengers to buckle their seatbelts. Additionally, the source recommended having all children under the age of 12 sit in the back of the vehicle. Drivers were advised to refrain from giving into distractions, including using their cell phones. For those individuals that plan to indulge in some beer, wine or cocktails for the holiday, The Legal Examiner proposed choosing someone to be a designated sober driver.

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