Highway travel during the 2012 Labor Day holiday is expected to be heavy through Monday, and the Alabama Department of Transportation is urging motorists to drive safely and use caution.
ALDOT announced last week there would be no temporary lane closures on Alabama interstates through midnight on Monday.
AAA Travel projects 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from the 32.1 million people who traveled last year. The total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high, and is the third increase in holiday travel this year, according to the AAA/IHS Global Insight 2012 Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast. AAA’s Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday travel forecasts projected increases of 1.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
Despite a sluggish economy and recent rises in gas prices, the increase in expected Labor Day holiday weekend travelers is driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago and Americans’ unwavering desire to travel.
“In the absence of strong economic growth that might fuel a significant boost in travel volume, it is an encouraging sign that Americans continue to prioritize travel,” said Clay Ingram, spokesperson for AAA Alabama. “Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budge, even with these higher gas prices.”
National gas prices have fluctuated and been particularly sensitive to region variations throughout much of the year. On April 5 and 6, motorists experienced a year-to-date peak national average price of $3.94 per gallon and an Alabama average price of $3.80 per gallon for regular gasoline.
Oil prices jumped $1.56 to $96.18 per barrel Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas, heating oil, and wholesale gasoline prices all rose more than 1 percent.
As of Friday, there was a large fluctuation in gas prices in Limestone County from $3.47 per gallon at Abby’s Mini Mart to $3.79 at FuelZ on U.S. 72 near Cox Road.
Gasoline purchases are critical expenditures in most household budgets, yet 66 percent of intended holiday travelers said their current household finances would not negatively impact their Labor Day holiday weekend travel plans.
Officers from state-level law enforcement agencies will also work together to create a highly visible enforcement presence intended to prevent crimes and violations that lead to deaths and injuries. The public should expect officers — even in unmarked vehicles — to make enforcement stops.
Alabama’s Integrated State Law Enforcement Task Force reminds the public to:
• Avoid driving or boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
• Restrict access and closely monitor teens to prevent under-age use of alcoholic beverages;
• Pay attention to speed limits and driving conditions on the road, and obey boating laws on the water;
• Watch out for swimmers and other boaters;
• Watch for debris in the water or on roadways;
• Use seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles and life vests on the water;
• Take care when using grills, never leaving them unattended and placing them a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic;
• Keep children and pets from potential danger by designating a 3-foot “safe zone” around the grill; and
• Pay attention to weather conditions, particularly when it involves thunder and lightning.