SECAUCUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The long Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer driving season, and for many, the alternating open roads and traffic jams became a reality Thursday night.
CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco had some tips Friday night about what you can do to take the stress out of your road trip – and keep yourself and your passengers safe.
A young boy named Anthony Norris, of Milford, Massachusetts, said Thursday night that he had been in the car “pretty much a long time.”
And Anthony had better settle in for the long haul, because he and his family have another several hours — driving to northern Virginia as Thursday officially kicks off the Memorial Day travel weekend.
“We’ll be on the road until 1 so; probably another four hours at least,” said his father, Michael Norris.
Traffic this year expected to be at an all-time high — as AAA predicts more than 37 million will hit the road. That will make this be the busiest Memorial Day travel period in 10 years — thanks to lower gas prices and a better economy.
Drivers Thursday night were getting a head start on the mad dash out of town.
Pattie Lennon of Manorville said she left early to “kind of miss all the traffic that’s going to be tomorrow.”
AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said that was a smart move.
“The best time to leave would probably be anytime other than Friday at 5 p.m.,” Sinclair said. “That’s getaway day. Everyone is going to be streaming out of work, jumping in their vehicles, clogging up the roads.
Instead, Sinclair suggests leaving before rush hour or much later.
“So you can postpone to another time — maybe early Saturday morning, get up at 4 or 5 o’clock, leave at 6 or 7, something like that,” he said.
But he cautions against leaving late at night and driving into the overnight hours.
“There’s a nasty little phenomenon called “micro-sleep” when you drift off to sleep for 2, or 3 or 5 or 10 seconds, and a lot of things can happen if you’re traveling down the highway asleep,” Sinclair said.
Depending on Mother Nature, roads to the beaches could be messy.
AAA predicts some of the busiest routes this Memorial Day to be “without a doubt the major highways – I think the New Jersey Turnpike is going to be a real bottle neck; Route (Interstate) 80 — a lot of people heading the Poconos or Pennsylvania, that kind of thing; (Interstate) 95 going north,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair said if you do hit traffic, an updated navigation system or an app on your smart phone can usually provide you with alternate routes.
AAA anticipates around 350,000 breakdowns this holiday weekend, so Sinclair advised that you should not forget to check your brakes and tires before hitting the road.