NEW YORK (PIX11) — The Memorial Day holiday weekend doesn’t officially begin until Saturday, but for many people in the Tri-state region, it actually got underway Thursday afternoon. Traffic monitoring research shows that the weekend’s busiest travel day is Thursday, and that early afternoon through the evening are the peak travel times.
This year appears to be on course to have a high road travel volume, despite the fact that gas prices are at an all-time high.
“We’re going to be very busy overall,” said Robert Sinclair, the New York and New Jersey media manager for AAA. “Travel is up about three million [vehicles],” he continued, adding that it’s about “one-and-a-half million more [vehicles] than last year.”
Those numbers mean that even though gas is at its highest average price ever, nationwide, at $4.60 per gallon, there are still plenty of people like Joanne Solomon. She was filling up her car at a downtown Brooklyn gas station, in preparation for a trip to New Jersey for the weekend.
“I’ve got to get out of the city,” she told PIX11 News. “I’m a nature girl.”
Another car owner, Khalil Duran, was also getting gas, and he said that despite the high price — about $1.50 per gallon higher than Memorial Day a year ago — he’s grudgingly willing to pay the price to head on his road trip south.
“Especially to go to Maryland, it’s like $200 … plus tolls,” he said about his overall gasoline bill for the trip.
“I feel that long distance is killing me,” he said. But when asked why he still is choosing to go, he replied, “I’m just comfortable” doing it.
When people do hit the road, there are ways to save money on gas, according to Benjamin Preston, the automobiles reporter at Consumer Reports.
His main recommendation, he said, is simple. “Slow down,” he said. “If you can accelerate more slowly, you’ll use less fuel.”
He recommended that drivers “keep below 70 mph on the highway,” adding that with each mile a vehicle drives more slowly, it uses exponentially less fuel.
Preston also recommended using apps, such as GasBuddy or GoogleMaps, to find stations selling the cheapest gas. Bundling multiple errands into the same trip also saves gas, he said. Keeping cars in top condition is also an easy way to ensure greater fuel efficiency.
High speeds were no problem on Thursday on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which was crawling with traffic. In fact, research by the traffic monitoring firm INRIX, in conjunction with AAA, shows that the BQE, westbound, between the LIE and 39th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is the most congested roadway in the region for holiday traffic.
Sinclair, from AAA, said that it was especially important for drivers to avoid it and all area highways during times of highest traffic volume.
“The worst time to travel,” said Sinclair, “is 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. The absolute peak during that period will be 3:15 to 5:15,” he said. “So I hope you’re where you need to be at that hour.”