More than 1.1 million Memorial Day travelers will launch summer tourism season, reports AAA

May 21, 2012, 10:31 ET from AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1.1 million Michigan residents will travel 50 miles or more on vacation during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, launching the start of the 2012 summer travel season, says AAA Michigan.  State travel is projected to be up slightly this holiday, compared to last year.  AAA projects 34.8 million travelers nationally, an increase of 1.2 percent.  The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28.

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The iconic road trip will be the dominant mode of transportation.  Approximately 30.7 million will travel by vehicle nationwide, almost nine out of ten holiday travelers (88 percent), also up 1.2 percent.  Of Michigan's travelers, 973,000 – 91 percent – will drive by vehicle, slightly more than last year.  They will find Michigan gas prices about $3.74 per gallon (as of May 21), down 18 cents from last year.

While gas prices rose earlier this year, a survey of intended travelers found that 53 percent said gas prices would not impact their upcoming Memorial Day holiday travel plans.  Those who said prices would impact plans cited planning shorter trips and economizing in other areas as ways to offset fuel costs.

The number of air travelers in Michigan is comparable to last year -- nearly six percent. The remaining three percent of travelers will go by train or bus.

According to survey results, the average distance traveled during the holiday is expected to be 642 miles, 150 miles less than last year's average 792 miles.  Last year, the shortest trips -- less than 150 miles -- made up 19 percent of total travel, compared to 21 percent this year.

During last Memorial Day weekend, Michigan State Police report nine people died in seven fatal crashes, down from 15 in 2010. One was a motorcyclist.  Alcohol was a factor in three of the fatal crashes.  Of eight killed in vehicles with seat belts available, three were not using them.

AAA Michigan will again partner with the Michigan State Police (MSP) in supporting Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort.)  Yellow banners will be posted at rest areas statewide, with many sites offering complimentary coffee and refreshments.  Operation C.A.R.E. volunteers will provide traffic safety information during the three summer holiday periods.

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight.  The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the holidays.