Summer Travel is Heating Up

Megan Magensky, Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, Director of Communications
May 2024

It’s that time of year again. School is almost out and we’re heading into the busy summer travel season.

It’s a fact that people travel more during the summer than any other time of year. This results in a shift in traffic flow. Instead of piling onto highways during the typical morning and evening rush hours, folks are traveling at other times of day.

According to a AAA travel survey, about 84 percent of Americans plan to travel in 2024, 44 percent of people say they will be taking more vacations than last year.

Nearly 40 percent of people responding to the survey say they plan to drive instead of flying this year in an attempt to steer clear of sold-out flights, high costs and large crowds.

Which means even more summer congestion on the roads.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) releases a study every year that reveals the annual “Cost of Congestion” to the trucking industry.

This year the study showed congestion on U.S. highways added almost $95 billion in costs to the trucking industry because of driver compensation, fuel, repair and maintenance.

The study also shows Nevada, Louisiana, Georgia and California saw the largest increases in congestion.

Here are some things to keep in mind while driving in traffic:

- Make smart driving decisions in heavy traffic

- Avoid aggressive driving and weaving from lane to lane.

- Keep a safe distance, at least three seconds, between you and the vehicle ahead of you. This will help you avoid frequent braking and rear end collisions.

- Watch the traffic ahead closely. When cars in front brake, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down gradually before you brake. Be cautious not to brake abruptly.

- Stay focused. Keep your mind on driving by avoiding distractions such as eating or using your cell phone.

On a personal note, I’ve been working with PMTA for almost one year. There are many things I’ve found myself in awe of in the trucking industry. One of them being a professional driver’s ability to stay calm.

As I’ve learned more about how to drive around big trucks (something most drivers are not taught!), and about our member companies, I’ve become more aware of the trucks I’m driving alongside. Professional drivers sit through traffic and deal with aggressive drivers daily.

As someone who will admit to falling prey to my own feelings of minor road rage at times, it is unfathomable that professional drivers spend the time on the road they do and manage to stay calm through it all.

Thank you for the work you do!

Safe travels!