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Memorial Day travel volume expected highest since 2005

WILLMAR — Roads are expected to be more crowded than last year over this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, which also expects gas prices to be higher over the weekend.

Automobile travel will grow by 2.7 percent compared to last year, AAA predicts, with 34.6 million planning on hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend. 2017 is the third consecutive year of growth for the number of cars on the road.

AAA said in a news release that 1.75 million travelers, 2.9 percent more than last year, are expected to be flying, busing, riding the rails and taking cruises also this year. Travel volume is predicted to be at its highest for the holiday since 2005.

Airfare costs, car rental rates and mid-range hotel rooms are all trending higher this Memorial Day, and gas prices are no exception.

Memorial Day gas prices last year were high compared to the rest of the year, when Minnesota averaged around $2.24 per gallon, according to gasbuddy.com. This year, prices are expected to be even higher. Despite this, more people will be on the road.

"Memorial Day gas prices should be slightly above last year's levels in most markets," said Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman of the AAA Auto Club Group. " ... However, gas prices should not fluctuate to levels that would cause travelers to alter plans."

With the increased traffic, AAA is preparing to make more rescues this weekend, expecting to make some 330,000 rescues, mostly for lockouts, dead car batteries and flat tires.

A survey conducted by AAA found that many drivers are not prepared for a roadside emergency. It showed that two-thirds have never proactively had their car battery tested, one in five do not know how to change a tire and four in five do not carry an emergency kit.

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