NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — You can expect to see busy roads and airports throughout New England as Memorial Day weekend ushers in the unofficial start to summer.
AAA expects this to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend in the last two decades. Fran Mayko, the spokesperson for AAA Northeast, said approximately two million New Englanders are expected to travel this weekend. Of those, 1.7 million are expected to drive.
“People are traveling, travel is coming back, and it does set the tone for the rest of the summer,” said Fran Mayko, spokesperson for AAA Northeast.
Mayko said travel is up this year not only because the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but also because gas prices are much less expensive now than they were at this time last year.
“Gas prices are a dollar or so less than this time last year, so that’s why people are driving,” she said.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s spokesperson Josh Morgan told News 8 that the DOT has paused all road construction projects that impact traffic, saying concerns go beyond congested roadways.
“Recent trends have not been great as far as the number of crashes, number of fatalities on our roadways,” Morgan said. “Holiday weekends when there are more vehicles, more people out on the road, more bicyclists, more pedestrians out, but that sad reality is something probably will happen this weekend.”
Law Enforcement Upping Patrols
State police said troopers will conduct additional DUI checkpoints from May 25 to May 29.
With so many people on the roads, Connecticut State Police are increasing the number of troopers on patrol and have two DUI checkpoints planned.
One was scheduled for Thursday night at Exit 3 off Interstate 91 in New Haven, and another on Saturday night at the Exit 18 offramp in Waterbury.
“If anybody is driving through those areas, troopers working those checkpoints will have a conversation with them. They’ll see what their demeanor is, see if they’ve been drinking or using cannabis,” said Sgt. Christine Jeltema of the Connecticut State Police.
State police will also conduct roving DUI patrols in all 11 troop areas.
Last Memorial Day weekend, state police responded to 6,448 calls for service, 547 calls for assistance, and 359 crashes. According to state police, troopers made 37 DUI arrests and 10 people were killed in crashes over the 2022 holiday weekend.
“The purpose of us having these extra patrols and DUI stops is to get those people off the roadways,” Jeltema said. “If you can get them off the roadway, it prevents us from having to respond to a fatality.”
The video below aired in our 10 p.m. newscast on May 25, 2023.