Tips for safe Memorial Day travel

Published: Sunday, May 25 2014 12:18 a.m. MDT

More than 36 million Americans — 2.7 million in the Intermountain West — will travel at least 50 miles during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from last year.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Memorial Day is considered the start of the “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers, according to AAA.

With more drivers on the roads during the summer months, paying close attention to other vehicles and keeping hands on the wheel — not on mobile devices — are of the utmost importance, motor club officials said.

Texting and driving is a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more than 200,000 vehicle crashes annually, often involving injuries and deaths, according to the National Safety Council.

AAA projected that 36.1 million Americans — 2.7 million in the Intermountain West — will travel at least 50 miles during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from last year. This summer, more than 80 percent of travelers will be driving to their destinations, AAA officials said.

This Memorial Day holiday is expected to bring out the third-highest number of Intermountain West travelers since 2005, AAA’s holiday travel forecast stated. The company projected that more than 2.3 million in the Intermountain West will drive this weekend, up 2 percent over last year.

Meanwhile, air travel is expected to increase 1 percent compared with 2013, with a little more than 232,000 regional residents flying to their holiday destinations. In the Beehive State, about 127,000 Utahns will likely travel by other modes of transportation such as rail, bus and watercraft — a nearly 7 percent hike compared with last year.

AAA data showed that most drivers will pay lower gas prices over the Memorial Day weekend due to rising supplies, with holiday gas prices relatively similar or even slightly less than last year’s holiday average of $3.63 per gallon.

Hotel rates at AAA Three Diamond lodging sites are expected to climb 2 percent from a year ago, averaging $169 per night, according to the company’s travel index. Weekend car rental rates will average $43 per day, with airfares experiencing the largest transportation expense increases, as round-trip fares for the top 40 U.S. routes jump 6 percent from last year.

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com

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