More CHP officers and 5M travelers? What to expect on California roads Memorial Day weekend

Traffic moves southbound on Highway 99 away from Highway 50 on Aug. 25, 2022.

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If you have plans to hit California highways this weekend, you can expect busier than normal roads, more law enforcement officers and steady gas prices. Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, and according to American Automobile Association “is a sign of what’s to come in the months ahead.”

Here’s what you can expect on Golden State highways with the holiday weekend ahead:

More travelers on the road

California highways will be busy this year.

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“Close to 5 million Californians will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend,” Treanor said. “The majority of them will be doing it with their cars.”

Interstate 80 is a peak congestion area for Northern California through the Memorial Day weekend.

East from San Francisco to Napa, Treanor said is expected it to be “very busy,” with commute times clocking in at an hour and 36 minutes.

That is a 77% increase than what motorists typically see on their commutes, Treanor said.

Steady gas prices

Gas prices are forecast to remain about the same for the holiday weekend, said Patrick De Haan, a GasBuddy spokesman.

California gas prices are averaging $4.81, according to AAA data.

“Prices in the last week have basically increased just a penny,” De Haan said. “So I would expect it to be fairly quiet here in the run up to Memorial Day.

Maximum law enforcement period on highways

California Highway Patrol will be operating a maximum enforcement period, or MEP, which brings all available officers on patrol starting Friday, May 26 through Monday, May 29 at 11:59 p.m., said CHP Sgt. Jeremy Wayland.

Maximum enforcement is typical on holiday weekends. In 2020, according to CHP maximum enforcement data, 458 arrests were made over 78 hours on Memorial Day weekend.

“MEP’s have been used for many years by the CHP during specified holidays to help save lives by addressing primary collision factor violations, such as impaired driving, speed, and occupant restraints,” Wayland wrote in an email.

“They also assure a prompt response to any incident causing a hazard or traffic delay.”

Below are rules to remember of whenever hitting the road, Wayland said:

  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Limit distractions like phones
  • Designate sober drivers

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