More Americans will take to the roads during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend this year as they benefit from a recent drop in pump prices, heralding a summer of strong fuel demand.
Approximately 30.7 million Americans plan to drive to destinations 50 miles or more away from home between May 24 and 28, the start of the peak driving season in the United States, according to a survey released Tuesday (May 15) by AAA.
This represents an increase of more than 500,000 travelers on the road or 1.2 percent from the 30.3 million who drove last year, which serves as an early gauge of summer gasoline sales at pumping stations.
Almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (88 percent) will take to the nation’s roadways during the Memorial Day weekend keeping automobile travel in the traditional lead as the dominate mode of holiday travel transportation, according to the organization, which provides roadside and travel services.
“The overall domestic economic picture continues to improve slightly, however, American consumers faced a new challenge this year as steadily increasing gas prices throughout the spring significantly squeezed many household budgets,” said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.
“Americans will still travel during the Memorial Day holiday weekend but, many will compensate for reduced travel budgets by staying closer to home and cutting entertainment dollars.”
A survey of intended travelers found that 53 percent said recent increases in gasoline prices would not impact their Memorial Day holiday travel plans. Of the remaining 47 percent of travelers who said gas prices would impact their travel plans, nine percent are planning to take a shorter trip, four percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation, and 34 percent will economize in other areas.
National gasoline prices may have peaked in April despite seasonal highs in early spring when motorists experienced average price increases for all but four days in February and March.
April experienced a full reversal as prices fell for 23 of 30 days during the month, helping to break a streak of 911 days since the national average price was lower than the previous year.
The current national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is approximately 25 cents lower than this time last year. U.S. gasoline prices averaged $3.73 a gallon on Tuesday, compared with $3.96 a year ago.
According to a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be 642 miles, which is 150 miles less than last year’s average travel distance of 792 miles. With high gas prices squeezing consumers’ spending power this spring, consumers are responding by traveling shorter distances this Memorial Day holiday.
The decline in expected air travel is a factor in the travel distance decrease as fewer flying miles can be contrasted with the slight growth in automobile travel. Miles flown for weekend travel are typically longer than those driven.
Median spending is expected to be $702, only slightly more than the $692 median spending last year.
American Automobile Association (AAA)
The American Automobile Association (the “AAA” or “Triple-A”) was founded on March 4, 1902, in Chicago, when, in response to a lack of roads and highways suitable for automobiles, nine motor clubs with a total of 1,500 members banded together to form the Triple-A.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.
Its national headquarters are in Heathrow, Florida.
AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for 101 top North American destinations, free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from city titles, like Orlando, New York, and Las Vegas, as well as National Parks.
Free AAA apps for iPhone and Android devices use GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, locate nearby member discounts, and find current gas prices.
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