As millions of Americans prepare to commemorate the sacrifice of men and women who gave their lives in service to our country, it’s important that people celebrate Memorial Day weekend safely on our region’s roads, waterways and in the mountains.
Expect the holiday traffic to start early. The Utah Department of Transportation is anticipating traffic volume to start building as early as midday on both Thursday and Friday. The surge of cars on the road may lead to delays of up to 90 minutes on Interstate 15 along the Wasatch Front.
We echo the Department of Transportation’s recommendation to travelers to consider leaving earlier in the day or later in the evening. It’s also important to be careful traveling home on Monday, as UDOT predicts heavy traffic all day.
This weekend also marks the start of the “100 deadliest days” on Utah roads, where fatal crashes increase 45 percent compared to the rest of the year, according to state officials. With so many cars on the road, it’s important to remember — and practice — all the rules for safe driving, including using seat belts, driving sober and avoiding drowsy driving.
We also know it’s easy to get impatient when in vacation mode, but it’s important to plan ahead to minimize feeling rushed and then being patient when running into the seemingly inevitable delays.
It can be daunting to consider the possibility of waiting more than 45 minutes to enter places like Zion National Park, but extra patience can help make reaching the destination more rewarding.
This weekend will also offer the opportunity to enjoy the many waterways and mountains throughout our state. Even as temperatures in the valley are expected to range from the mid-70s to 90 degrees, it can be 15 to 20 degrees cooler up in the mountains. While that sounds refreshing, we encourage people to respect Mother Nature and the fact that conditions can quickly change.
Being underprepared for mountainous conditions can be dangerous, especially after the sun sets. It’s important to plan ahead, including telling others where you’re going, knowing the area that you’re heading to, and wearing adequate warm clothing with appropriate hiking shoes or boots. It’s also probably a good idea to not rely on your cellphone to do everything — reception can be spotty in the canyons and batteries can die.
Should your holiday travel take you near any of our region’s crisp creeks or rivers, please exercise caution near the rushing water. Yes, there wasn’t as much snowpack this year as there was in 2017, but there is still runoff and the water will likely be cold. Experts advise parents to keep an eye on their children and keep them within arm’s length when around water.
It’s a blessing to live in such a beautiful state with countless wonders scattered in every direction. We wholeheartedly encourage people to explore, but to exercise caution so there can be celebrations in the years to come.