As a European, a Brit to be precise, I had no idea how seriously they take spring break in America. After speaking to the Traffic team at HERE I learned how popular this custom is and how certain US destinations get incredibly busy in the build up to Easter.
As we are exploring an American phenomenon it seems apt to alter our spelling to US English. My apologies, Your Majesty.
What is spring break all about?
In short, spring break is a time when people of all ages and variety flock to sunny destinations to relax and unwind.
With this year’s spring break already upon us, HERE conducted research to find out the average routines of spring breakers, from favorite destinations to popular modes of travel.
The research was two fold: an online survey with over 600 participants who answered questions about their plans for spring break this year coupled with data on traffic patterns in and around the most popular spring break destinations in the last two years.
What does spring break mean for drivers?
The top line result is that 68 percent of respondents will travel by car and the average driving time is a grueling 10 hours. The busiest time on the roads is in the two weeks leading up to Easter, which we can see from our traffic data has been consistently the case in the last two years.
Florida has traditionally been a desirable location for spring breakers, largely college students looking to party, and it is a phenomenon that dates back to the 1950s when students form southern state universities began to pour into Fort Lauderdale. Today Panama City, Daytona Beach, Miami, Orlando and Key West, all in Florida, are very popular destinations for people of all ages. <p
We looked at our traffic data, which mostly comes from probes in which anonymous GPS measurements can tell us how many vehicles are on the road at one time. We picked eight of the most popular spring break destinations, five of which are in the state of Florida, and looked at the bump in traffic around spring break.
In both 2013 and 2014, there was a significant spike in traffic in the two weeks leading up to Easter, which fell at different dates respectively, proving that the hike in traffic is due to the spring break and not other contributing factors.
In Panama City there was a 76 percent increase on normal traffic in 2014. Though interestingly, as happened across the board, there has been a significant rise in traffic as compared to the spring break of 2013. Looking at Panama City again, there was a much lower, though still considerable, rise in traffic of 36 percent that year.
With Easter falling on April 5th this year, it is safe to assume that the last week of March and first week of April will see a big spike in traffic in popular destinations around Florida. If you’re not a people person, you might want to steer clear of the Sunshine State altogether!
What does a modern family vacation in the US look like?
It is also clear that a long road trip is not something to put off most spring breakers. Amy Disantis, Product Marketing Manager for Connected Driving at HERE says, “The average drive time is huge, coming in at an average of 9.6 hours. Our research shows the majority of people will travel with family or friends in the car. Perhaps parents see it as a rare opportunity to have quality family time with their kids!”
In essence, the travelling is becoming just as much a part of the holiday as the destination itself.
On top of this, when respondents from the survey were asked what they would do if they get stuck in traffic, 55 percent said they would be happy to keep on the same road with only 34 percent considering an alternative route.
Wherever you are, if you can’t tolerate traffic jams and/or overcrowded destinations this Easter then be sure to check out traffic alerts on wego.here.com, the HERE app on your smartphone or use a HERE Traffic powered in-dash navigation in your car.