INRIX Traffic Helps Make the Most of Valuable Three-day Weekends

Data Shows Smart Planners Think Outside the Box to Get Out of Town

Jul 11, 2013, 08:05 ET from INRIX

KIRKLAND, Wash., July 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With so much summer left and so little vacation time allowed, more travelers are looking to maximize three-day weekends.  Analysis by INRIX, a leading provider of traffic information and driver services shows pushing back departure times by even an hour or two, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., can cut travel times by as much as 50 percent.

"No need to rush out of town to just get stuck in rush hour," said Jamie Holter, INRIX Traffic Analyst. "Travelers get caught up in remembering toothbrushes, the right clothes, and dog food. They forget to plan for the one thing that can truly make a difference in a three-day weekend," said Holter. "That's a calm, stress-free trip out of town."

INRIX analyzed congestion data for several key three-day weekend destinations and found patterns that apply throughout the United States: the best departure times change from east coast to west coast and leaving later can have a surprisingly big impact on your travel time.

On the East Coast, leave Thursday. On the West Coast, leave Friday; any time after 8 p.m. works best.  In the Midwest, an 8 p.m. departure can save significant time, but delay that return trip until 5 p.m. on Sunday to spend the least time in the car.

"Not everyone can afford an Uber helicopter ride to the Hamptons," said Jamie Holter, INRIX Traffic Analyst. "For everyone else there's the free INRIX Traffic app to help speed them on their way."

East Coast: Leave Thursday, take Friday off

East Coast traffic is more conventional with the heaviest congestion on Friday night, especially during the summer. Travelers are anxious to get out of town; they want to leave right from work or right after work. This is a big mistake.

INRIX tracked travel times to the Hamptons and found drivers who leave at 6 p.m. will get to their destination at 10 p.m., spending nearly four hours in traffic. Drivers who are willing to wait two hours and leave at 8 p.m. will get to the Hamptons in little more than half the time. "It's like a time warp. You save time by leaving later," said Holter.

West Coast: Leave Friday, take Monday off

West Coast traffic mirrors the West Coast focus on lifestyle. INRIX traffic data shows nearly all West Coast traffic is heaviest on Thursday night, not Friday night and 6 p.m. traffic is twice as bad as 8 p.m. traffic.

To get the most out of a three-day weekend, INRIX recommends West Coast travelers leave Friday night after work or after 8 p.m. and take Monday off instead of Friday. The difference between Thursday night and Friday night traffic does not vary as greatly as the East Coast, but the tie usually goes to Friday.

Midwest:  Chicago to the Dunes, leave Thursday; Chicago to the Dells, leave Friday

The trip out of town from Chicago is mixed. Drivers who plan long car rides should leave Friday and those who plan shorter jaunts should leave Thursday.  The time saved isn't much. The real benefit comes from leaving after 8 p.m. both days. The later departure time shaves nearly an hour off a trip to the Wisconsin Dells. 

The return trip is the key to smart planning. Folks who vacation in Wisconsin can save an hour by returning after 5 p.m. on Sunday.  The 3 p.m. return trip is nearly four hours where the 5 p.m. return trip is nearly three hours.

INRIX analyzed trips from Los Angeles to Palm Springs and La Jolla; Seattle to Ocean Shores and Lake Chelan; San Francisco to Napa and Lake Tahoe; New York to the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore; and Chicago to the Wisconsin Dells and the Indiana Dunes.

"Many travelers are reluctant to leave so late in the evening for a three-day weekend," said Holter. "But once they see the evidence that it means less time in traffic being cranky and more time getting into vacation mode, it's eye-opening. I think it makes the three-day vacation seem more like a real vacation."

Download the INRIX Traffic App Before the Weekend

Even the smartest vacation planners can't plan for collisions on the road. Drivers should download the INRIX traffic app which alerts drivers to collisions, delays, hazards, and police activity. It delivers two routes and alternate routes when the unexpected occurs. The app also directs drivers to the lowest gas prices in the area.


INRIX is one of the fastest growing big data technology companies in the world.  The company leverages big data analytics to reduce the individual, economic and environmental toll of traffic congestion. Through cutting-edge data intelligence and predictive traffic technologies, INRIX helps leading automakers, fleets, governments and news organizations make it easier for drivers to navigate their world. Our vision is simple – to solve traffic, empower drivers, inform planning and enhance commerce. 

Whether through an in-car or smartphone navigation application, a local newscast or our INRIX Traffic app, our up-to-the-minute traffic information and other driver services help more than 150 million drivers save time, fuel and frustration. INRIX delivers traffic and driving-related insight, as well as sophisticated analytical tools and services across six industries covering over two million miles of road in 32 countries.  For more information visit us at