Plan ahead and don’t get stuck in traffic during these times, and places, on Memorial Day weekend

A situation you never want to be in.

You have your bags packed ready to get the wheels turning on your road trip. Maybe you’re rushing out the door or you have everything planned out. Either way, you’re in the car and on the way to your destination.

That’s when you see it.

Those dreaded bright red taillights up ahead bringing you to a halt. And on and on those red lights go for as far as your eye can see. There’s no end in sight, and your trip feels over before it’s even began.

Unfortunately, this scenario may be inevitable for many Memorial Day travelers this year. According to AAA, more than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, a nearly 5 percent increase from last year and the most in more than a dozen years.

In other words, traffic may get a little bit heavy this weekend.

On top of the frequently traveled holiday weekend, many road warriors across the country will plan to start their treks at the end of the workday.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company working in collaboration with AAA, expects travel delays on major roads to potentially reach up to twice, or even three times longer, than normal for some ill-fated cities. During INRIX and AAA’s collaboration, the chart below shows the top areas they found will have the highest uptick in traffic during Memorial Day weekend.


Metro Area Worst Day to Travel Worst Time to Travel Delay Multiplier of Normal Trip
Atlanta, GA Thursday, May 24 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. 1.6x
Houston, TX Thursday, May 24 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. 1.5x
Boston, MA Thursday, May 24 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. 1.8x
Washington, DC Thursday, May 24 4:30 – 7:00 p.m. 2.3x
San Francisco, CA Friday, May 25 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. 1.7x
Los Angeles, CA Friday, May 25 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. 1.9x
New York, NY Friday, May 25 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. 2.7x
Detroit, MI Friday, May 25 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. 1.5x
Chicago, IL Friday, May 25 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. 2.1x
Seattle, WA Friday, May 25 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. 1.8x

Source: INRIX


“Drivers should expect congestion across a greater number of days than in previous years, with the getaway period starting on Wednesday, May 23,” said Graham Cookson, Chief Economist and Head of Research, INRIX.

“Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commute times in major cities altogether – traveling late morning or early afternoon – or plan alternative routes.”

While major cities may see the highest uptick, it is still wise to plan ahead and try to either leave earlier in the day or another date altogether. No matter where you may travel, no one wants to start their road trip staring at those dreaded red rear lights.