Motorists hit the road for a busy Memorial Day weekend

·3 min read

May 25—Local and state agencies are reminding people to be safe while traveling the roads over the Memorial Day weekend.

With lower gas prices compared to last year, more people are expected to hit the roads for the busy holiday weekend, but being safe is key.

"Any time during a holiday weekend, there is going to be more traffic on the highway, so everyone needs to practice defensive driving," said Lt. Jennifer Hayes with the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

It is projected that 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day Weekend, which is a 7% increase over 2022, according to a media release from AAA of the Carolinas.

"Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff to what promises to be a very busy summer travel season," said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA, in a media release. "Despite various inflationary pressures, consumer spending is strong, and Americans still want to travel. Because of that, we've seen demand come roaring back, beyond pre-pandemic levels in South Carolina."

AAA said Memorial Day road trips are up 6% from last year, with an estimated of 37.1 million people expected to drive to their destinations.

Lower gas prices also play a role in how many drivers will be on the road.

In South Carolina, the gas prices are lower when to compared to $4.19 this time last year. The current average price for a gallon of regular gas in South Carolina is $3.18, according to AAA. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Aiken County is $3.25.

Hayes said local police will be out as usual and the goal of traffic enforcement is to decrease fatalities.

"We will have our normal patrolling and traffic enforcement," she said.

She said Memorial Day isn't a big day for fireworks, but wants to remind city of Aiken residents that fireworks aren't allowed in the city limits.

Currently the South Carolina Department of Public Safety has partnered with statewide law enforcement agencies for the Buckle Up South Carolina campaign and has focused on highway safety over Memorial Day weekend.

The campaign will run alongside the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's national seat belt enforcement program, according to a SCDPS media release. The special enforcement period will run May 22 through June 4.

Lance Cpl. Brittany Glover with South Carolina Highway Patrol said more troopers will be out on the road for the upcoming weekend.

Glover said a lot of the traffic accidents occur during Memorial Day weekend.

SCDPS Director Robert G. Woods said one of the most important things travelers should do is to make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt.

"Memorial Day is coming up fast, and so is the start of the 100 Deadly Days of Summer — a period between Memorial Day and Labor Day where we historically see an increase in fatalities on South Carolina roadways," Woods said in a media release.