NEW JERSEY — With Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer on the horizon, AAA expects nearly 43 million Americans to kick off summer with a Memorial Day weekend getaway. In New Jersey, we can expect an estimated 1,000,000 travelers on the road -- the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000, trailing only the bar set in 2005. The New Jersey total would represent a 3.8 percent increase over 2018 travelers.

Even as the national gas price average is inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark, the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. For these motorists, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be more than three longer than normal during evening commutes.

“After a winter that didn’t seem to want to quit, Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast. “Families continue to prioritize spending their disposable incomes on travel, and near-record numbers of them are looking forward to doing just that for Memorial Day.”

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TRAVEL BY THE NUMBERS

Automobile

  • New Jersey – 942,395 (90.2% of travelers), a 3.8% increase from last year.
  • Nationally – 37.613 million (88% of travelers), a 3.5% increase from 2018.

Air

  • New Jersey – 72,880 (7% of travelers), an increase of 5% from those who flew in 2018.
  • Nationally – 3.247 million (7.6% of travelers), an increase of 4.8% from last Memorial Day.

Train, Bus, Cruise Ship or Other Mode

  • New Jersey – 28,942 (2.8% of travelers), no change Memorial Day 2018.
  • Nationally – 1.899 million (4.4% of travelers), an increase of 3.8% from last year.

Drivers beware: Worst times to hit the road
For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by car, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metro areas could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C. could see three times the delay.

Higher gas prices won’t keep holiday travelers home
Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon ($2.84 as of May 21, 2019), which is below the national average price this time last year ($2.93 on May 21, 2018). However, 88% of travelers will will drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

Today’s average price for a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey is $2.99, nine cents below the price seen on this day last year.

Tips for drivers

AAA expects to provide aid to more than 353,000 motorists at the roadside during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.

AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. Be prepared for emergencies with a cell phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.

Even with preplanning, unexpected emergencies can still occur. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call (800) AAA-HELP (222-4357) to request roadside assistance.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider.