Memorial Day Traffic


Photo courtesy of Eric Z. Grey

So you’re going away for the long Memorial Day weekend? So is over 80% of the country. Despite the bitching over $3.00/gallon gas, the majority of us will drive and over 15% of us will drive over 50 miles.

But here are some survival tips from this hardened driver who regularly runs the 6 hour DC to New England gauntlet in his Plastic Mexican Jetta.

1. Leave early: Duh. If you can take Friday off, do it. If you can take Tuesday off, do that as well. Most drivers will leave after Noon on Friday and after 4 on Monday. Don’t be stuck in gridlock on the Bay Bridge, desperately having to pee, because you left work too late or wanted to enjoy a little more grilling. Stay the night, or leave early.

2. Plan your route, keep the radio tuned, and eyes on the road: You’d be amazed what a little forethought and quick thinking can do to save you time. Fill up your car at home rather than on the way (the 15 cents extra per gallon won’t kill you). Check with AAA Live Traffic Information before you leave, and plan your route accordingly. Keep your radio tuned to the traffic network. If you spot a jam ahead, quickly pan and scan for exits to an alternate route and SAFELY go to them. I once avoided a massive road closure because I learned the side roads ahead of time.

3. Bring an EZ Pass or Smart Tag: For the love of God people, use a damn EZ Pass or Smart Tag. They cost little to get, they will save you time, and you won’t have to be stuck behind some asshole begging the attendant to let him through because he forgot to bring cash. Of course, you’ll still have to deal with the lane changers (who block the EZ Pass lane), who in my opinion should suffer death by spooning.

4. Keep Safe and Go with the flow: Don’t let this rollover happen to you. Drive defensively and keep yourself and the others on the road alive. And keep your speed within reason. If you get caught speeding, you WILL be late. Cops on Memorial Day like nothing better than to waste the time of speeders. You think they’re running your plates? Hell, no, they are listening to sports radio and planning where to buy charcoal.

5. Keep the Rug Rats Occupied: If you are cursed blessed with children, keep them occupied, so you don’t kill them. You parents probably already know this, and have yourself freed Barabbas a few times on the holidays. Since it is only a matter of time before baby strollers come with a DVD player built into it with 72 hours of Barney, seize the day. Spend that $35 to buy a new DVD or portable game and enjoy the 2 hour respite.

Extra tips:

A compass and a good, detailed map of the state helps. Seriously. Knowing which direction you are going can help you in case of a backup. If you don’t know the alternate route, take a road following a parallel compas bearing.

Obviously, don’t stop, unless you have to. Getting on and off the highway wastes time and gas.

If you have a Tom Tom or other GPS/Mapping device, use it. I’ve personally used them, and found they are AWESOME for picking impromptu routes to places you want to go. If you mess up the route, they automatically calculate the next possible route for you.

2 Comments so far

  1. Julie (unregistered) on May 25th, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    Beware of kitty jihad. Your plastic mexican jetta may die on the road.

  2. rosemary (unregistered) on May 25th, 2006 @ 8:13 pm

    good tips. knowing side roads has saved my ass numerous times (especially during the chemical spill on 83 about a month ago).

    of course, i’ll be one of the assholes out on the road this weekend, but i have to get to work, damnit.

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