Traffic over Memorial Day weekend is expected to be 25 percent higher this year compared to last year. That’s a significant increase compared to what we typically see year over year. The reason is bittersweet. The combination of an improving economy and a desire to do more than just a ‘staycation’ after one of the toughest winters of recent memory is expected to translate into more traffic on our roads as people head out of town for the holiday weekend.
We analyzed Memorial Day weekend traffic trends across major metropolitan areas from the last few years, as well as current traffic and economic trends, which show congestion, employment and consumer spending are up nationwide. Using the INRIX Delay Index, we then measured congestion delays against typical traffic conditions throughout the day for major cities and routes across the U.S.
Based on our forecast for this year’s holiday, we’ve put together five tips to help you save time, spend less on gas, and keep stress in check as you get out of town.
- Pick your destination wisely. Depending on where you choose to go and which route you take, the amount of delay you experience could vary greatly. Once you decide on a destination, check the traffic often on the day of your departure to get early warning of accidents and other incidents along your route. It will help you know what to expect when you hit the road and give you the opportunity to find faster alternative routes around delays. In addition to our INRIX Traffic app, we provide route-specific traffic insights to local news outlets in most major metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC for this purpose.
- Make your escape between 10-11 a.m. on Friday. Our analysis predicts the ideal window to get out of town will be right after morning rush hour. This could be your golden opportunity to escape the worst of the holiday traffic before the late afternoon rush ensues, which will start earlier than usual on Friday.
- Alternatively, leave before 1 p.m. or after 7 p.m. to avoid the worst delays. Rush hour on Friday afternoon is expected to be its worst between 3-5 p.m., several hours earlier than normal. If you can’t leave right after the morning rush hour, try to get out of town before 1 p.m. to avoid the worst traffic. Otherwise, roads heading out of town should be relatively clear by 7 p.m.
- Get smart about your city, and find out where it ranks on the INRIX Traffic Scorecard. The Scorecard provides detail on the top 25 worst traffic cities in the country and the worst roads within them. A scan of the worst roads list for your area and the amount of delay shown during the worst hour of the day are good indicators for what you can expect between 3-5 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
- As you prepare to hit the road, download the free INRIX Traffic mobile app. Our up-to-the-minute traffic information ensures you have the most current insight into traffic conditions to help you get out of town. In addition to major highways, the app provides real-time traffic maps covering arterials, city streets and other secondary roads that will help you avoid congestion with minimal delay.
Travel safely this holiday weekend, and don’t let traffic steal your spirit, just as the weather starts to heat up and summer peeks around the corner.