Ragina C. Ali
Public Relations Manager, MD
O: (410) 616-1900 (ext. 4361152)
C: (443) 465-5020
TOWSON, MD (Wednesday, May 22, 2019) –– An estimated 918,000 Marylanders plan to schedule a getaway for the Memorial Day weekend, a 3.4% increase over last year, and the highest number of Memorial Day weekend travelers since 2000, when AAA began tracking holiday travel. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.
This year’s forecast also reflects the fifth consecutive year Maryland’s travel volume is expected to exceed 800,000 and reveals new record highs for auto and air travel for the holiday.
“Maryland-area residents are ready to kick off the Memorial Day weekend with a trip,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “After a long winter and soggy spring, locals are ready to pack up the car, or catch a flight, bus or train in order to enjoy the warmer weather.”
Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan joined AAA Mid-Atlantic and law enforcement officials today to kick off the unofficial start to the summer vacation season. The annual event, which was held at Hemingway’s Restaurant in Stevensville, with the Bay Bridge as a backdrop, included AAA travel projections and traffic safety initiatives, including AAA Mid-Atlantic’s recently launched distracted driving campaign, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” The multi-year traffic safety effort seeks to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving. It targets drivers who would never consider getting behind the wheel after drinking a beer or any other alcoholic beverage and, yet, will regularly use mobile devices while driving, dangerously taking their eyes and minds off the road.
“Ocean City is looking forward to the start of summer this Memorial Day holiday weekend. There is no better place to spend time off this summer than Ocean City, and we have so many new and exciting features this year for our visitors to enjoy,” commented Mayor Meehan. “We ask everyone to please walk smart, drive smart and bike smart while you visit us, as well as be aware of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving: Don’t Drive Intoxicated, Don’t Drive Intexticated.” Ocean City’s Tourism Office will help promote AAA’s distracted driving campaign over the summer at area Visitor Centers and by airing the “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” Public Service Announcement (PSA) on Ocean City’s Public Access Channel.
2019 Projected Memorial Day Holiday Weekend Travel - Maryland
Estimated # of Marylanders Traveling
Percentage of Travelers
Increase/Decrease Compared to 2018
Automobile Travel Breaks Memorial Day Holiday Record Again
AAA estimates a record number of residents, 819,000 will drive to their destination, an increase of 3.4% from last year’s holiday.
“While the average price of gas across Maryland has been fluctuating in recent days, gas prices remain approximately 14 cents lower than they were last year over the Memorial Day weekend,” Averella added. “Memorial Day travel projections suggest Marylanders will not be deterred by the cost of filling up.”
As of Tuesday, Maryland’s average price was $2.79 per gallon, two cents higher than last week, and up two cents from last month. Last year on Memorial Day, the average price for regular gasoline in Maryland was $2.98 per gallon. AAA does not anticipate prices to reach the record high levels seen back in 2014 when the statewide average was $3.66 per gallon.
Air Travel Hits New High
Marylanders will also take to the skies in record numbers, with over 74,500, an increase of 5.2% compared to 2018, expected to fly over the holiday.
“Air travel represents the highest percentage growth of all travel modes for the second consecutive year,” Averella said. “This is also only the second time, since AAA began tracking holiday travel, that air travel for the Memorial Day weekend has exceeded the 70,000-volume benchmark.”
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are one percent higher than last Memorial Day, landing at an average price of $171 for a round-trip flight along the top 40 domestic routes.
National Holiday Outlook
Nationally, the vast majority of travelers – 37.6 million – will hit the road, the most on record for the holiday and 3.5% more than last year. An additional, 3.25 million people will take to the skies, 4.8% more than last year, second only to 2005. Nationally, travel by other modes - train, bus and cruise ship - is forecast to increase by 3.8% to 1.9 million passengers. “Despite national volume gains in travel by other modes, the Maryland forecast reflects no change in that category,” said Averella.
The Maryland State Police, Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police and law enforcement officers across the State will be out patrolling the State’s highways for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. They are urging motorists to take responsibility while driving to keep themselves, their passengers and others on the road safe. Police Commanders and Mayor Meehan echoed the importance of AAA’s “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” campaign and pledged to not drive intexticated.
“With the beginning of the busy summer driving season, the MDTA Police would like the public to know that distracted driving causes far too many crashes in Maryland each year, and that we will be out in full force to enforce Maryland’s traffic safety laws,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Anderson, MDTA’s Operations Bureau Chief. “We will have increased patrols on MDTA facilities during peak travel times to provide safety, security and service to motorists. Remember: park the phone, obey the posted speed limits and never drive impaired.”
“Distractions that divert your attention while driving are life threatening,” said Lieutenant Colonel Frank Lioi, Chief of the Maryland State Police Field Operations Bureau. “Our strict enforcement of traffic laws is a daily reminder to drivers that our laws are in place for their safety. Violation of those laws impact the safety of everyone on our roads.”
AAA To The Rescue
Nationwide AAA expects to respond to rescue calls from more than 353,000 motorists this Memorial Day weekend. Across AAA Mid-Atlantic’s territory, the auto club anticipates coming to the aid of more than 55,900 area motorists. Dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts are typically the leading reasons AAA members experience car trouble. During the Memorial Day travel period in 2018, including the day after Memorial Day, AAA rescued over 10,000 drivers in Maryland.
AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as a AAA Car Care Center in the mid-Atlantic region or one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance. Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. For the purposes of this forecast, the Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27. In cooperation with AAA, IHS Markit developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes, using macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators and variables related to travel and tourism, including prices of gasoline, airline travel and hotel stays. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast is available here.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to over 59 million members nationwide and more than 982,000 members in Maryland. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.