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Expect busy roads this Memorial Day weekend

(file photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of Utahns will be driving somewhere this Memorial Day weekend.

AAA predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion Friday in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.

With all those people on the roads, the Utah Department of Transportation and Utah Highway Patorl are asking people to be more careful while driving, to buckle up, and to pay more attention behind the wheel.

Memorial Day starts what’s known as the “100 deadliest days” in Utah.

UHP Sgt. Nate Powell says too many crashes are caused by drunk, drowsy or distracted driving.

“Always, always be looking at what’s ahead. A lot of these crashes could be avoided, if we just look ahead and focus on driving,” he said.

“As soon as you feel that drowsiness come on, that’s when you need to pull over and do something about it,” added Powell.

UDOT spokesman John Gleason said people are more cautious driving during the winter months, but when driving conditions and weather get better during the summer, drivers get less cautious.

“People tend to become a little more complacent. It’s human nature,” Gleason said.

UHP troopers say they handle a higher volume of crashes in the winter, but the severity of crashes dramatically increases in the summer.

“People get a little more relaxed, speeds go up, they try to pack as much in their vacation time so they don’t get as much sleep,” said Lt Todd Royce. “Hopefully we don’t pull you over and you see us on the side of your car, but more importantly, hopefully we don’t have to come to your house and inform you that a loved one has passed away.”

A TripAdvisor survey shows nearly one-third will be traveling to their destination.

With Memorial Day travel up by 6 percent this year, the roads will be busy locally as the majority (74 percent) will be driving to their destinations. Another 21 percent of travelers plan to drive between 101 and 200 miles, 20 percent will go between 201 and 300 miles, and 16 percent will stay close to home and drive between 51 and 100 miles.

With 32 percent planning to fly, air travel is also predicted to increase by 6 percent this weekend and the airports are expected to be full of activity – so pack your patience.

The top trips travelers plan to take this weekend include:

1. Beach/Ocean trip (26 percent)
2. City excursion (25 percent)
3. Mountain getaway (12 percent)
4. Lake escape (11 percent)
5. National park visit (9 percent)

By the numbers: 2018 Memorial Day holiday travel forecast

• Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 36.6 million – will hit the road this Memorial Day, 4.7 percent more than last year.

• Planes: 3.1 million people will travel by air, a 6.8 percent increase and the fifth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

• Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 2.4 percent to 1.8 million passengers.