Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, but it's also one of the most dangerous driving weekends of the year.
This year, AAA expects more than 37 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home, an increase of 60% from 2020. Of those traveling, more than 34 million will be doing so by vehicle.
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 415 people may die this weekend on the roads.
“Many people choose to travel by car, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per miles traveled,” said Mark Chung, vice president, roadway practice at NSC. “As family and friends gather for the holiday, we not only call on everyone to spend time together safely during the ongoing pandemic, we also ask you to do your part to ensure you and your loved ones get to your destinations safely.”
This is the first major holiday since COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently updated guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face masks. However, some local and state travel restrictions remain in effect. AAA urges those who travel this year to exercise caution and take measures to protect themselves and others as the pandemic continues.
“As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions."
Here are five tips for safer Memorial Day travel from the NSC.