Memorial Day weekend is here and Pennsylvanians want to travel. An estimated 2.1 million people are expected to use the Pennsylvania Turnpike through Monday.
This is almost double last year’s 1.2 million. And it’s almost the same as the 2.2 million figure from Memorial Day 2019 before the pandemic.
Friday is the busiest travel day for the weekend, with more than 700,000 vehicles expected on the Turnpike. Then the Turnpike will see between 450,000 to 530,000 each day Saturday through Monday.
The American Automobile Association expects more people to travel by car than other modes of transportation than trains. AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Kathleen Zinszer says its because they see driving as safer.
“For folks who still have COVID-19 on their mind, traveling by car gives them a lot more control,” said Zinszer. “Not only by when they leave and where they stop. It also gives them the security of who is in their car.”
Despite these positives, PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton says the roads may be more dangerous. After a long time away from the wheel, some drivers are taking more risks.
“While many of our customers are returning to the roadway after more than a year, we are seeing concerning trends showing that many who are driving now are forgetting their safe-driving behaviors,” said Compton. “Motorists are driving at excessive speeds, as well as using their cellphones more frequently and for longer periods of time.”
The cost of traveling by car has also gone up from last year thanks to gas prices. In PA, the average price of a gallon of gas is $3.16. This is almost a full dollar more than the same time last year.
“But even though that’s a lot of sticker shock,” said Zinszer, “you have to remember where we were one year ago. No one was traveling so gas prices were very low.”
Motorists may also make some stops at service stations along the way. There is no mask requirement at these locations for fully vaccinated individuals.
More information is available on the PA Turnpike website.