BELOIT - Congestion likely will await many Memorial Day weekend travelers, as AAA forecasts the second-highest travel volume on record since the organization began tracking holiday travel in 2000.
Across the nation, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation's roads, rails and runways this weekend compared with last year, a 3.6% increase. In total 37.6 million Americans will be traveling by car, the most holiday roadtrippers on record.
In Wisconsin, 826,395 people are projected to be traveling during the Memorial Day holiday period, which AAA defines as Thursday to Monday. This includes 746,563 Wisconsinites who will be traveling by car, a 3.2% increase from last year.
A study conducted by INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, found that drivers should expect travel delays on major roads to be as much as more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes in large metropolitan areas.
However, Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs of AAA -The Auto Club Group, said this bad of congestion likely only will affect drivers traveling through major cities such as Chicago or the Twin Cities.
"If you're in Wisconsin you'll see more traffic on the road than a typical weekend, but you shouldn't see anything that drastic," Jarmusz said.
For those who end up taking to the streets or the interstate, AAA predicts that drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Thursday and Friday in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
Gas prices have increased by more than 30 cents in the last two months with the national average approaching $3 per gallon. The national average was $2.86 on May 14, which is relatively on par with prices this time last year. The average on May 14, 2018, was $2.87. However, AAA predicts that 88% of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.
Due to the increased amount of drivers on the road, authorities in the Stateline Area - including officers from Roscoe and the City of Beloit - will be participating in the Click It or Ticket program, which enforces the proper use of seat belts and car seats to keep motorists safe.
Roscoe police officers will be taking a no-excuses approach and will be writing citations day and night. Drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts will be ticketed, and those caught driving impaired will be arrested.
In addition to the Click It or Ticket program, City of Beloit police officers will be participating in the Rock County Impaired Driving Enforcement Taskforce on Saturday, Capt. Dan Molland said.
"We urge drivers to take extra caution this weekend as many travelers will be on the road for the holiday. Whether you're driving around Beloit or headed 'up north,' allow enough time to get where you are going, wear your seatbelt, and put the phone away," Molland said. "We also have extra officers working throughout Rock County this weekend as part of the Rock County Impaired Driving Enforcement Taskforce, so find a sober driver if you are under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication."
Jarmusz asks drivers above all else to stay safe, which means no impaired or distracted driving. Drivers also should make sure to get enough rest and to obey work zone speed limits even if work crews aren't present.