Associations: Prepare for a Memorial Day Traffic Crunch

Whether you're on the highways or at the airport, odds are you'll find yourself stuck in traffic around Memorial Day. Here's some advice from a handful of key travel and transportation associations on preparing for the long weekend.

As you prepare for your Memorial Day weekend, keep in mind this key fact: Ten to one, you’re going to be stuck in some kind of traffic, either on the road or in an airport security line.

First, the airports: In recent comments to CNN Money, John Heimlich, chief economist at Airlines for America (A4A), noted that funding challenges faced by the Transportation Security Administration, which have led the association to launch a campaign to highlight long airport waits, are already indicating trouble for Memorial Day travel and beyond.

“If we’re having long wait times processing early-spring demand, then we expect late spring/early summer to be even worse,” Heimlich told the news site.

(The report notes that the Friday before Memorial Day is the fourth-busiest air-travel day of the year.)

Not helping matters is the record passenger volume expected. A4A’s recently released Summer Travel Forecast infographic shows that 231 million people are expected to fly this summer, a significant jump from last year’s 222 million.

If you do end up flying this weekend, be sure to allow yourself extra time, especially if you’ll be using Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, or Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. According to A4A, those are the busiest U.S. airports.

What About the Highways?

Even if you’re not going to be at an airport but taking a road trip instead, be sure to allow yourself a little extra time and patience.

Patience might be necessary to deal with the additional traffic. According to a report by AAA, more than 38 million Americans are expected to travel over Memorial Day weekend, the highest total since 2005. What’s driving the drivers? Very low gas prices, of course.

“Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade,” Marshall Doney, AAA’s president and CEO, said in a news release earlier this month. “The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.”

And with the additional traffic, it’s critical to consider safety on the road. Memorial Day weekend dovetails with National Tire Safety Week, an event put on by the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Taking place May 29 to June 4, the occasion offers drivers the opportunity to consider tire maintenance at a time when they’ll likely be on the road.

RMA recommends that drivers do their PART by checking tire pressure, wheel alignment, tire rotation, and the tires’ tread.

AAA is also getting into the spirit of National Tire Safety Week, teaming up with the tire manufacturer Michelin to offer drivers tips on keeping their tires in tip-top shape.

“Most people forget about their tires, but when you think about it, they’re the only part of the vehicle contacting the road,” said Sarah Robinson, Michelin’s safe driving expert, in a news release. “Many tire-related incidents can be avoided if drivers ensure they have proper tire pressure and adequate tread depth.”

Going anywhere fun this weekend? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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