The traditional kick-off to the summer driving season officially gets underway this weekend as millions of people travel for the Memorial Day weekend. According to AAA East Central, approximately 31.2 million motorists will hit the road starting Thursday.
“In the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, there will be about 3.78 million drivers out on the roadways, so very busy if you’re heading out on a road trip,” said AAA spokeswoman Bevi Powell.
When other modes of transportation are taken into consideration, even more people will travel this weekend. Traveler numbers will be slightly lower than last year, but Powell said that’s not a big cause for concern.
“It’s pretty flat with what we’ve seen for the past 12 years,” Powell said. “The average for the past 12 years is 34.7 million travelers. This year we’re anticipating 34.8 million, so pretty flat with what we have seen, but up significantly with the decade-low we experienced in 2009.”
Most people will be traveling by motor vehicle, air travel this Memorial Day travel period is expected to be 8 percent lower than last year. As far as how travel will affect pocketbooks this year, it’s a somewhat mixed bag.
“Airfares are about 10 percent higher this year,” Powell said. “Car rentals are up about 19 percent year over year, and we’re seen hotel rates pretty similar to what they were last year.”
Gas prices are lower this year than last. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the Pittsburgh area is $3.56. It was $3.69 at this time last year. Prices are expected to remain relatively steady, barring any major supply disruptions.