Record gas prices, record travel, very few lifeguards this Memorial Day weekend

LEXINGTON, Mass. — A lot of people have already hit the roads for the long holiday weekend, and today it will be no different. But gas prices still remain record-high.

Gas prices sit at $4.73 a gallon for regular unleaded in Massachusetts. Drivers are almost paying double compared to this time a year ago, when the average was $2.91 a gallon. Despite that, AAA predicts 950,000 people in the Commonwealth will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. Of those, more than 860,000 will be going by car. If these predictions hold true, it would be an increase of 8.3%, which brings travel volumes almost in line with 2017.

The worst travel time Friday is between noon and 7:00 p.m. For the ride home, travel times are also expected to be heavy on Sunday and Monday between one and four in the afternoon.

With gas prices at record highs, state officials anticipate people will be flocking to local beaches and lakes, but there comes a warning from officials about water safety.

The water still might be a little too cold for a swim. On top of that, there is big issue the state is currently dealing with — a shortage of lifeguards. The state plans to open 80 swim locations Saturday, but only 16 of them will be staffed with lifeguards, and only on the weekends until mid-June. That’s why officials are urging people to practice water safety — never swim alone, remain in designated areas and know your limits.

“We anticipate thousands of people venturing to state parks and beaches all across the Commonwealth,” said Beth Card, the Energy and Environmental affairs Secretary.

“We just want everybody to be able to get out have some fun go home rinse do it all over again,” said Major Kevin Clayton of the Environmental Police.

In the meantime, the state is continuing to recruit lifeguards. The state has increased the hourly rate between $21 and $26 an hour. They are also offering a $500 retention bonus for lifeguards who work through the end of the season.

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