DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Whether you are taking to the sky or packing up and hitting the road, it is going to be a busy weekend. According to AAA, about 39 million people across the country will be traveling over Memorial Day weekend, 35 million will be driving to their destinations, including 1.3 million Ohioans.
“We’re not quite where we were pre-pandemic, but it’s definitely the busiest it’s been since the pandemic,” Jerod Turner, a retail manager for AAA, said.
Turner said the record high gas prices are not stopping people from taking their trips this year.
“The only thing we’ve seen that is changing for people, the gas prices aren’t affecting their trips, but what they’re doing is maybe changing the amount of time they’re staying, what they do, how they eat, lodging. That’s about the only way they’re compensating for the prices,” Turner said.
With so many people expected to hit the roads, local police departments are preparing for a busy weekend themselves. This travel period also marks the start of the 100 deadliest days of summer. Sgt. Gordon Cairns, the traffic services supervisor for the Dayton Police Department, said traffic fatalities are already up this year.
“This year actually, our total number of crashes are down, our fatal number of accidents are up though,” Sgt. Cairns said.
Sgt. Cairns is reminding everyone to stay off their phone and take it slow while traveling to your destinations.
“Give yourself plenty of time. A lot of times we find ourselves involved in speeding incidents because we didn’t give ourselves enough time to get where we’re going and a lot of time that speed is what causes these accidents,” Sgt. Cairns said.
While more Americans will be driving this holiday weekend, flights were still running nonstop at the Dayton International Airport Friday.
Mark Pinto and his two kids, Broxton and Reese, were one of the many families in the Miami Valley kicking off their summer plans this weekend.
“We have a couple plans, we have two parties and just hanging out. First ever Mets game,” Reese said.
They were prepared for a hectic day of travel, but things ran smoothly Friday afternoon at the Dayton International Airport.
“So far so good, it’s been pretty quiet around here. Kind of a little surprised, we thought when we got in here the lots would be a little full, but they’re not. We are delayed by an hour, but that’s normal when you’re flying into New York,” Mark Pinto said.
Air travel is expected to be up 25% this weekend with the TSA screening close to 2.4 million people in the U.S. on Thursday alone. Traffic is also up at the Dayton International Airport. Linda Hughes, airport services manager, said they are seeing more than 90% of available seats filled this week. A nice change from previous years.
“Coming through last spring, traffic was down quite a bit. We just completed our in-planement numbers for April and we’re seeing 39 plus percent higher this year than last year,” Hughes said.
Another sign that despite record high inflation and fuel prices, people are not passing up on their travel plans this summer.
“It’s just an opportunity to get out of here, we don’t get a lot of opportunities, so we’re not really worried about the money right now,” Mark said.