ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) —  More than 700,000 Marylanders are gearing up to hit the road this Memorial Day Weekend, a 53 percent increase from this time last year. For some, this might be their first long-distance trip since the pandemic started.

This weekend is the unofficial start of summer and after more than a year of covid hibernation, it seems like many are celebrating by getting out of town.

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One in four people said they plan on traveling. More than 34 million people nationwide plan on hitting the road this weekend and another 2 and a half million will fly.

“I was surprised because the airport was packed,” said traveler, Latoya Carter

“I can imagine a bunch of people are excited to just get out,” said Aseem Chaedry, from Annapolis.

Transportation officials said an unforeseen challenge of the pandemic has been an increase in fatalities on Maryland roadways as a result of speeds in excess of 95 mph and other kinds of reckless driving.

“So far this year, Maryland State troopers have arrested 2,700 impaired drivers. This is more than 700 last year,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Roland Butler, Chief of Maryland State Police Field Operations Bureau.

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According to Maryland State Police, traffic enforcement will be intense, with officers from all 23 Maryland barracks on patrol, with eyes on traffic from the sky, the highway, as well as the waterways.

“Boat sales have been at a record level, so there are more boats out on the water than ever before,” said Colonel Adrian Baker, Superintendent, Maryland Natural Resources Police

Police said they are going to upping patrol this weekend to make sure everyone is safe

Anyone hitting the road, should plan to cross the Bay Bridge either early in the morning or late at night and expect pre-pandemic traffic.

“I think people are definitely dying to get out and I think it’s going to be ridiculously crazy,” said Debbie Millman, who is driving with friends early Friday morning to Rehoboth Beach for the weekend.

State Police said they plan on keeping a close eye from above – using a helicopter to help monitor the flow of traffic.

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Kelsey Kushner