Memorial Day travel forecast calls for high traffic and soaring temperatures

As students across western Pennsylvania begin their summer vacation and families welcome warm weather and long weekends, it’s important to plan ahead for any unwanted travel complications.

AAA East Central estimates that more than 4.6 million travelers from the Mid-Atlantic region will head to holiday destinations over Memorial Day weekend, filling roads and airports with hundreds of vacationing families. With gas prices and temperatures still rising throughout the weekend, experts advise these travelers to plan ahead to avoid unnecessary stress over the weekend.

State officials say travelers should expect heavy traffic on all major roads this Memorial Day weekend.  Shown here is a traffic jam on Route 65.

“Based on our predictions, more Americans will be taking to the roads and skies this Memorial Day weekend than in the past several years,” said Bevy Powell, Senior Vice President of AAA East Central. Time with family and friends.”

Car travel higher during the season, but gas prices will remain high for the weekend

Initial travel forecasts show that the most popular mode of transportation will still be cars, with 4.2 million drivers expected to travel this weekend. The number of travelers driving to their destination is expected to increase by about 4.6% this year, despite rising gasoline prices across the country.

“Even with the massive increase in gas prices, we expect a huge jump in holiday driving compared to the past few years,” said Bob Peshaw, transportation analyst at INRIX. Drivers should expect congestion on major roads around major cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion builds up can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

While this map from AAA shows that prices are lower than in the eastern parts of the state, many in the western PA are feeling the impact of higher prices on their wallets.  Currently, the state average is about $4.77 per gallon of gasoline.

In western Pennsylvania, gas prices currently average $4.70 per gallon, which is slightly higher than the current national average of $4.59. Gasoline prices are $1.05 higher than they were when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, sending gasoline prices skyrocketing around the world. With additional seasonal demand, the average price increase was $1.56 over the same time period in 2021.

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