The unofficial kickoff of summer brings with it increased traffic, more crashes and greater chances of truck cargo thefts now through Monday, warn three different groups.

AAA projects 36.1 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 1.5% increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year, with more than eight in ten travelers driving to their destinations. 

The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26.

Memorial Day holiday travel volume is expected to reach a new post-recession high and is forecast to be 2.6% more than the 10-year historical average, as well as the second-highest travel volume since 2000.

AAA says 88% percent of travelers, or 31.8 million, will travel by automobile, an increase from 31.4 million last year. Travel by other modes of transportation will see the largest increase, up 6.5%, totaling 1.7 million travelers.

With this increased travel, the chance of crashes occurring is greater. The National Safety Council predicts an estimated 382 traffic fatalities during this time and 40,900 people injured.

Crashes aren't the only thing that is expected to increase over the holiday weekend -- so are cargo thefts, according to the logistics security services provider FrieghtWatch International.

“Holiday weekends are of notoriously high risk for manufacturers and logistics-related organizations,” the group said in a release. “Organized cargo theft rings will be extremely active in the coming days, as more shipments are left unattended for extended periods of time due to the long holiday weekend.”

During Memorial Day Weekend last year, FreightWatch recorded theft levels 30.8% higher than non-holiday weekends. Pharmaceuticals, electronics, food/drinks, alcohol, tobacco, and apparel are commonly stolen over the Memorial Day weekend.

FreightWatch recommends logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up to date and in line with industry best practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations, as both will be heavily targeted over the weekend. 

“In order to mitigate criminal attempts to exploit cargo at rest, we suggest confirming that a given receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times,” said FreightWatch. “Covert GPS tracking and active monitoring of high value shipments is highly recommended, as it has proven to be the most effective protocol to both mitigate in-transit theft and facilitate successful recovery of stolen product.”