Aug 31, 2023 - News

What to expect for Labor Day weekend traffic in San Diego

Illustration of a steering wheel as a clock with a highlighted portion in red

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you're taking a road trip to Palm Springs or Temecula for Labor Day, you might want to leave sooner rather than later. And try to avoid a Monday evening return or be prepared to sit in a lot of traffic.

Driving the news: After work Friday is projected to be the busiest time to leave San Diego this holiday weekend, according to INRIX, a global provider of transportation data and insights that works with AAA to find best/worst car travel times.

  • It'll take about four hours to get to Palm Springs on I-15 N then.

Yes, but: Peak congestion is expected Monday at 4:45pm on I-15 S, which will see a 29% increase in typical travel time.

  • Expect at least a 2 hour and 45-minute drive back to the city from Palm Springs.

Of note: Holiday traffic will be slightly worse than normal on SR78 E toward the Salton Sea on Thursday at 6:45pm.

Why it matters: Planning to drive during off-hours could save you time and money, as San Diego's average gas prices have been steadily rising since July and are 13 cents higher than this time last year, according to AAA.

Zoom out: Nationwide, drivers will see the heaviest traffic Thursday between 2-6pm, up nearly 11% from normal.

What they're saying: "The best times to travel by car over Labor Day weekend are early in the morning or in the evening," says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX.

  • "If you must travel during heavy traffic, navigation apps and local departments of transportation can help steer drivers around long delays."

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