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AAA: Labor Day travelers expected to increase this year

Posted: August 28, 2014 6:41 p.m.
Updated: August 28, 2014 6:41 p.m.

Southern California residents are expected to hit the road over the long Labor Day weekend in numbers not seen since 2008, according to projections from the Automobile Club of Southern California.

More than 2.48 million Southern California residents are expected to take a trip over the long holiday weekend, a 1.6 percent increase over last year.

“As the summer ends, we are entering the ‘shoulder’ travel season, and even though Labor Day is a three-day weekend, it can often be a more affordable travel holiday than other peak times such as Christmas and July Fourth,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.

The year 2008 represents the high-water mark for Labor Day travel in Southern California, according to AAA. That year, about 3.2 million Southern Californians and 5.2 million people statewide got away for the holiday.

The vast majority of travelers this year, nearly 80 percent, will drive, according to AAA, though many are also expected to fly, take a bus, catch a train or board a cruise ship.

Statewide, just about 4 million travelers are expected to take advantage of the long weekend this year.

The California Highway Patrol will be out in force this weekend in anticipation of holiday travel, according to officials.

The CHP is preparing a “maximum enforcement period” that will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and continue through 11:59 p.m. on Monday.

That period goes along with a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

During last year’s Labor Day enforcement period, 49 people were killed in collisions on roadways throughout California, according to the CHP. That was a 40 percent increase from the same period in 2012.

“While many people will spend the long weekend celebrating with their friends and family, the law enforcement community will be on patrol working to keep the highways hazard free,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow in a statement. “Our main goal through this high-visibility enforcement effort is to prevent tragedies from occurring.”

One factor that may be fueling additional travel is the fact that gas prices in California have been on the decline in recent weeks.

The statewide average for regular, unleaded gasoline was around $3.86 a gallon as of Thursday, down about 14 cents from a month ago, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

However, prices are still a few cents higher per gallon than at the same time last year, according to that report.

Nationwide travel is also expected to creep up this year, with more than 34.7 million Americans projected to take a trip that is at least 50 miles away from their home between Thursday and Monday, according to AAA. That represents a 1.3 percent increase from last year.
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