Higher gas prices won't stop record Memorial Day travel, AAA says

GREENVILLE, S.C. – AAA Carolinas says an estimated 451,550 South Carolina motorists – a 1.8 percent increase over last year and the highest number in nine years – are expected to vacation by automobile this Memorial Day weekend, despite gas prices being an average of 22 cents higher than last year.

The five-day Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 through Monday, May 26. The most congested times for travel are expected to be Friday afternoon and evening before Memorial Day – with traffic increasing earlier in the day than usual – as well as Monday evening as travelers head back home.

At $3.49 per gallon, Myrtle Beach has the state's highest average gas price, and the cheapest gas in the state ($3.41 per gallon) is in Spartanburg. The South Carolina average of $3.46 is the 14th lowest in the country.

Memorial Day weekend launches the "100 deadliest days" for teen drivers, with seven of the 10 most deadly days of the year occurring between Memorial Day and Labor Day. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one of the biggest contributing factors in fatal accidents involving teen drivers is the number of other teen passengers in the car. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase five times when two or more teen passengers are present, compared to driving alone.

Last year, a total of 13 people died on South Carolina roadways during the Memorial Day holiday - the most deadly Memorial Day totals in South Carolina in the past six years.

"Holiday trips are about getting away and it is not a time to become stressed behind-the-wheel," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Relax by making sure your car is ready for the trip, be mentally prepared for traffic delays you may encounter on the way to your destination and take a rest break every couple of hours to remain mentally alert."