Worst Times To Travel By Car On Memorial Day Weekend

Worst Times To Travel By Car On Memorial Day Weekend


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Memorial Day weekend is almost here and millions of Americans are ready to hit the road. Despite gas prices reaching record highs, many will take advantage of the long weekend for a pre-summer vacation. This means that roads will be busy and large cities will experience heavy traffic and delays.

According to a recent study made by American Automobile Association (AAA), 34.9 million Americans will travel by car—at least 50 miles from their home— from May 26 through May 30. 

The transportation data and analytics company INRIX shared valuable information for drivers, and provided the best and worst time ranges to travel, including peak congestion in metropolitan areas. 

Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst INRIX, said: “Even with a significant increase in gas prices, we expect a large jump in holiday driving compared to the last few years”. And added: “Drivers should expect congestion on major roadways around big cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

The information gathered by INRIX shows that most travelers will begin their trips next Thursday afternoon, and the worst traffic will occur this day between 3:30 pm and 5:45 pm.

The main recommendation for those traveling by car is to begin their journey before 6:00 am or after 9:00 pm on Thursday and before 7:00 am or after 9:00 pm on Friday. Those driving over the weekend should do it before 10:00 am on Saturday or Sunday.

Here’s a quick guide with the worst and best times to travel across the United States according to data gathered by INRIX, as well as a more specif list per metropolitan area. 

Worst Time to Travel

traffic jam

Travelers are eager to begin their vacations as soon as possible, probably right after work on Thursday and Friday, which are predicted to be the busiest days. These are the worst time ranges to travel:

  • Thursday, 26 May: From 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
  • Friday, 27 May: from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
  • Saturday, 28 May: from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
  • Sunday, 29 May: from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  • Monday, 30 May: from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Best Time to Travel:

Those who want to avoid traffic congestion will have to wake up very early and start driving before 7:00 am on Thursday and Friday, and before 10:00 am during the weekend. Another strategy is to travel after 9:00 pm. These are the best time ranges to travel per day:

  • Thursday, 26 May: Before 6:00 am or After 9:00 pm.
  • Friday, 27 May: Before 7:00 am or After 9:00 pm.
  • Saturday, 28 May: Before 10:00 am.
  • Sunday, 29 May: Before 10:00 am.
  • Monday, 30 May: Before 11:00 am.

Peak Congestion In Metropolitan Areas:

traffic jam

According to INRIX’s predictions, traffic congestion in the New York metropolitan area will increase by 161% followed by Chicago by 131% and Atlanta by 128%. In most metropolitan areas the worst corridor is from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on May 26. Here are the corridors for worst peak congestion per city:

  • Atlanta: On May 26 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
  • Boston: On May 26 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm.
  • Chicago: On May 26 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
  • Detroit: On May 27 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
  • Houston: On May 27 from 4:45 pm to 6:45 pm.
  • Los Angeles: On May 27 from 4:45 pm to 6:45 pm.
  • New York: On May 26 from 3:15 pm to 5:15 pm.
  • San Francisco: On May 26 from 5:45 pm to 7:45 pm.
  • Seattle: On May 27 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
  • Washington DC: On May 26 from 3:45 pm to 5:45 pm.

Read More:

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

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