DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The coronavirus will undoubtedly affect one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. The question is by how much.
Roadways would normally be packed on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend.
Last year, AAA reported 43 million Americans hit the roads in anticipation of the holiday. But this year, the agency is not even releasing a travel forecast due to the impact of COVID-19.
Many travelers are still moving forward with their plans.
At Buc-ee’s in Royse City, hundreds of drivers fueled up before their respective trips.
“No concerns,” said Mike King, who is heading to Virginia from San Antonio. “Travel so far has been relatively good today.”
Like millions of Americans who typically fly this weekend, King opted to drive instead.
“Gas prices have definitely helped,” King said. “Especially with the higher food prices, so it’s evened itself out a little bit.”
Gas prices are at their lowest levels in nearly two decades. But will that necessarily incentivize drivers to get behind the wheel during a pandemic?
Economic Bud Weinstein said this holiday will be eye-opening.
“This weekend is really the first time consumers will reap a benefit if they’re driving out of town, consuming gasoline over the next few days,” said Weinstein, who works at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.
With much of the state previously under stay-at-home orders, traffic on Texas roads had seemed lighter. But the Texas Department of Transportation is urging drivers to still plan ahead this weekend.
“There have been some restrictions lifted throughout the state of Texas,” said Danielle Boyd, a spokeswoman for the Dallas district. “There will be motorists on the road, and there will be more road travel.”
With their wheels in tow, the Arias family said they are exchanging the crowds in Dallas for a cabin in Oklahoma.
Elias Arias said, to him, the riskiest part of the trip is stopping.
“When we get away, we don’t really have any concerns out there. Right now, when we’re here for a restroom break is our only concern,” Arias said.
At this time, the CDC is still advising people to avoid nonessential travel.