A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AAA projects busiest Memorial Day weekend since before pandemic as KY travelers take to roadways

AAA is gearing up for what it expects will be the busiest Memorial Day weekend since before the pandemic, as nearly 483,000 Kentuckians — 90% of all travelers — take to the roadways for their holiday destinations.

Emergency Roadside crews expect to respond to more than 1,700 members across the commonwealth left stranded by dead batteries, tire troubles, lockouts and empty gas tanks.

AAA is projecting that about 42.3 million nationwide and more than 530,000 Kentucky residents will travel 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, an increase of about 7% over last year and reminiscent of pre-pandemic holiday travel. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29. In all, nearly 12% of Kentucky’s population is expected to travel by vehicle, air or other mode of transportation over the Memorial Day weekend.

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“This is expected to be the second busiest Memorial Day weekend for travel in Kentucky since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public affairs manager with AAA Blue Grass. “Despite inflation, this summer travel season could be one for the record books.”

In Kentucky, the broad majority of travelers from the commonwealth— more than 480,000 or close to 90% of travelers—will take to the roadways. Memorial Day road trips for Kentuckians are up about 4.5% over last year, spurred on by significantly lower gas prices compared to 2022. A year ago, the Kentucky average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was nearly a dollar more heading into Memorial Day weekend, while the national average was hovering at around $4.60 a gallon.

While Friday is expected to be the busiest day on the roads, leaving early in the day regardless of which day your trip begins, can help you avoid the most traffic snarls.

More than 36,000 travelers in Kentucky are expected to fly to their destinations this Memorial Day weekend. That’s an increase of more than 16% over last year and accounts for almost 7% of those traveling. Even with high ticket prices, demand for flights is skyrocketing. This Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.

There are also more people this holiday taking other modes of transportation, like cruises, buses and trains, than in 2022. These travelers are expected to total more than 13,500 in Kentucky, an increase of nearly 19% over 2022.

Whether preparing for a trip this Memorial Day weekend or getting ready for a Great American Road Trip this summer, drivers are reminded to make sure their cell phones are fully charged and that they have a fully stocked summer emergency kit on hand.

“Motorists should have an emergency kit in their vehicles at all times, but especially when preparing for a road trip,” said Weaver Hawkins. “As seasons change, it’s important to be sure you have the right components in the emergency kit to keep you and your passengers safe and comfortable in the event of a breakdown or other emergency situation.”

Summer Emergency Kits include:

• Fully charged cell phone and car charger
• First-aid kit
• Blanket
• Flashlight with extra fresh batteries
• Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
• Emergency warning devices such as road flares or reflectors
• Jumper cables
• Drinking water/snacks for everyone in the car, including pets

As roadside assistance crews prepare to take care of motorists, morotists are asked to take care in looking out for tow drivers and all emergency first responders working alongside the road.

“When approaching a tow truck or other first responder working alongside the road, reduce speed and, if safe to do so, move over a lane. It’s not only the safe thing to do, but it’s the law in Kentucky and all 50 states,”said Weaver Hawkins. “Drivers need to focus on driving without distraction and keeping everyone on the road safe by slowing down and moving over for all who are working at the roadside. Too often, distracted drivers end up causing crashes with roadside workers, stranded motorists and stopped traffic on the road ahead. All of these situations–many of which end in severe injury and death–are completely preventable. Buckle up, phone down.”

AAA Blue Grass

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