Heavy holiday travel expected

May 23, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM


The number of travelers on area roads is expected to be high this Memorial Day weekend despite an increase in gas prices.

In order to conserve, travelers might not drive as far, but they still are expected to drive, according to AAA.

The average price of regular gasoline in Hagerstown on Monday was $2.88 - down 3 cents from last month's average, and an increase of 81 cents over last year's average price, according to AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella.

"It's likely that the gas prices may have some impact on summer travel and that people may very well travel closer to home," she said. "But travel projections are a very slight increase over last year's."


Despite high gas prices and increased vacation costs, travel is expected to increase by nearly 1 percent during Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA data.

Averella said this increase is one of the smaller increases AAA has seen in several years.

"We believe that's probably in part because of gas prices," she said.

AAA estimated that 37.6 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more from home this holiday - a .9 percent increase over last year.

"Families may travel closer to home, or for fewer days, but they will continue to take vacations and plan getaways," Jim Lehman, Senior Vice President of AAA East Central, said in a written release.

About 31.4 million travelers are expected to go by motor vehicle - a .7 percent increase from the 31.2 million who drove a year ago, according to AAA data.

The average price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Hagerstown on Monday was 11 cents cheaper than the statewide average of $2.99, Averella said.

The average nationally was $2.888 Monday, according to AAA data. The average one month ago nationally was $2.884, and one year ago, it was $2.128.

The average price in Pennsylvania on Monday for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel was $2.898. The average price in West Virginia was $2.886, according to AAA data.

Maryland State Police in Hagerstown said they will have additional patrols on the road over Memorial Day weekend in anticipation of the increased number of holiday drivers.

While most weekend travelers will go by vehicle, another 4.3 million plan to travel by airplane - up 1.5 percent from last Memorial Day, AAA stated. An estimated 1.9 million vacationers will travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation, which is about the same as one year ago.

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