Ga. Memorial Day travel expected to pass pre-pandemic level
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Pack your patience if you’re traveling for Memorial Day weekend, because you won’t be alone.
AAA projects 1.3 million Georgians will be traveling 50 miles or more from home this year – 86,000 more people than last year, exceeding pre-pandemic numbers.
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“People are comfortable, and it looks like some of the concerns we saw around the pandemic are erased. Vendors, companies, cruises have now removed restrictions,” said Garrett Townsend, a spokesman for AAA in Georgia. “This is going to be a very busy summer for traveling.”
Most of those Georgia travelers will be driving – an estimated 1.2 million of them, which is 70,000 more than last year.
Georgia State Patrol troopers and other law enforcement say officers will be out in force.
IN THE AIR:
- About 114,000 Georgians are forecast to fly for Memorial Day weekend, which is 12,000 more than last year’s holiday. If you’re going through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, expect it to be extra full. It’s the world’s busiest airport, with more than 2 million people expected to pass through between Thursday and Wednesday.
Georgia state troopers say they expect traffic to pick up Friday afternoon when most people get off work, and they’re urging everyone to stay alert on the road this holiday weekend.
Sgt. Richard Sikes of the Georgia State Patrol says they’ll be checking the main and the back roads.
“We’ll have heavy enforcement on the interstates, because that’s where a lot of people generally go. But we’ll also be in the cities and counties,” Sikes said.
He says Friday traffic often includes people speeding to their destination and others who’ve already started drinking. He says troopers will be looking for drunk drivers and more.
AVERAGE GAS PRICES:
- Georgia: $3.25 per gallon
- South Carolina: $3.17 per gallon
- Alabama: $3.14 per gallon
- Florida: $3.38 per gallon
“So we look for the usuals – seat belts, texting while driving. But also distracted driving with anything,” Sikes said. “We want everybody to be safe.”
He says to give yourself enough time to get where you’re going without speeding. And don’t try to drive home if you’ve been drinking, whether it’s a long distance or just across town.
TOW TO GO:
- AAA in Georgia will offer a free service to keep impaired drivers off the road. Tow to Go will tow you and your vehicle to a safe location within a 10-mile radius for free, from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Call 855-2-TOW-2-GO.
He says the agency will have every available trooper on the roads statewide through late Monday night.
“Last year during the 78-hour Memorial Day holiday period, the Department of Public Safety issued over 10,000 citations, 9,600 warnings, and arrested 330 people for driving under the influence,” said Col. Chris Wright with the Georgia State Patrol.
To help make it easier on drivers, the Georgia Department of Transportation will suspend many construction-related lane closures on Georgia interstates and state highways from noon Friday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Good reasons to buckle up
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 11,800 people killed in vehicle crashes in the United States in 2021 were not wearing seat belts and 60 percent of young adults (18-34) were not wearing seat belts.
- In Georgia, 56% of the people killed in passenger vehicle crashes in 2021 were not wearing seat belts.
- According to preliminary crash data, 15 people died in crashes during the 2022 Memorial Day Holiday weekend in Georgia and 43 percent of those who were killed in vehicle crashes in the state during last year’s holiday weekend were not wearing seat belts.
- Over the past five years, 30% of the people killed in vehicle crashes in Georgia during the Memorial Day Holiday weekend were not wearing seat belts.
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