AAA says plan ahead: Busy Memorial Day travel weekend expected

HARTFORD — Whether you’re taking to the roads, rails, waters, or skies this Memorial Day weekend, you can expect a lot of company!

AAA expects 39.3 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more away from home. That’s one million more travelers than last year, and the highest Memorial
Day travel volume since 2005.

This will also be the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend across New England since 2005. AAA says almost 1.8 million people will be traveling – and more than 90 percent of them, or 1.6 million, are planning a road trip.

This is the third year in a row that Memorial Day weekend travel numbers are up across New England, and nationwide.

The increase in the number of drivers out on the road also means there is an increased risk to safety.

“More people are on the road driving more miles at the same time we’re more distracted by different kinds of technology,” said Chris Hayes, 2nd V.P. of Risk Control Transportation at Travelers Insurance.

A recent survey by the insurance giant found that millennials are twice as likely to look at their cell phones while driving with friends and family in the car than any other generation.  It also revealed that 56 percent of millennials admitted to looking at their phone for a text alert or for social media when behind the wheel, which is roughly 30 percent more than the number of gen-Xer’s who admitted to the same.

Hayes pointed out that texting, however, is not the only big distraction to drivers.

“It’s not just a cell phone People tend to think that texting is the one thing that you’ve got to be aware of but really any kind of engagement outside of driving,” Hayes said.

The Travelers survey also highlighted that nearly 30 percent  of the people surveyed say the top reason they look at their phone behind the wheel is to use GPS when they are lost.  It also found that nearly half of the people surveyed say they speak up as passengers to tell a driver to stop using a phone while driving.

“We found that people are increasingly willing as passengers to turn to a driver that’s distracted and ask them to focus on their driving,” Hayes said.

Hayes also added that same mentality is critical if a passenger is questioning whether their driver has had too much alcohol to drive.