When Memorial Day traffic will be the worst

Plan ahead to avoid traveling during the busiest times during Memorial Day weekend. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

Plan ahead to avoid traveling during the busiest times during Memorial Day weekend. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

If you’re hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend, you’ll have plenty of company.

The auto club AAA projects 43.8 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Memorial Day weekend, a 4% increase over last year.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “We’re projecting an additional 1 million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation will suspend all interstate lane closures on state interstates and routes from noon Friday until 5 a.m. Tuesday. GDOT expects the heaviest traffic in metro Atlanta from noon to 8 p.m. Friday. Next Tuesday when many travelers return home, expect an increase in traffic again.

State troopers and local police agencies will be visible throughout Georgia this weekend, working to keep travelers safe.

“We encourage everyone to enjoy time with their friends and families over the holiday period, but please remember to put safety first,” said Col. William W. Hitchens, III, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “We encourage drivers to focus on driving and minimizing distractions, especially cellphones. Distracted driving can result in serious, even fatal, consequences. Also, remember to make seat belt and child safety restraint use a priority.”

In 2023, crashes across the state killed 16 people over the Memorial Day weekend, according to investigators. Troopers also issued more than 13,000 citations, made more than 380 DUI arrests, and investigated over 500 crashes.

The highest number of traffic deaths during a Memorial Day holiday weekend occurred in 1969 when 27 people died in traffic crashes, according to the DPS. That was also the first year the agency kept traffic statistics for the holiday.

“Please be responsible this Memorial Day weekend,” Hitchens said. “The consequences of drinking and driving can be devastating. Protect yourself and others by choosing not to drive if you’ve been drinking. Make sure you have a safe way to get home without getting behind the wheel.”

Officials urge safety on waterways as well as the roads. Authorities investigated two drownings over Memorial Day weekend 2023.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency treatment for water-related incidents, according to the organization.



1. Plan ahead. Before heading out, make sure any needed vehicle repairs have been made and check the air pressure in the tires, along with fluids and brakes. Have a first-aid kit and any other emergency supplies ready.

2. Obey the posted speed limit. When you exceed the speed limit, you reduce the amount of available time needed to avoid a traffic crash.

3. Do not drive impaired. Designate a sober driver, or call a taxi, ride-sharing service, friend or family member to help you get home safely.

4. Buckle up. Make sure everyone in the vehicle wears a seat belt and that children are properly restrained in the appropriate child safety seats.

6. Pay attention. Limit your distractions, and never use electronic devices to text or surf the web while driving. The Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

Sources: Georgia State Patrol and AAA


Tips for staying safe when in the water:

1. Fence in all pools and spas.

2. Learn to swim or at least know survival skills, such as floating.

3. Provide constant attention to children.

4. Wear life jackets when on a boat. Children and inexperienced swimmers should also wear life jackets.

5. Swim in an area with a lifeguard when possible.

6. Know the signs of someone in trouble.

Source: American Red Cross