Local News

Falling gas prices expected to boost Labor Day weekend travel

Posted August 28, 2014 5:31 p.m. EDT

— A recovering economy and lower gas prices is expected to boost nationwide travel on Labor Day weekend by 1.6 percent this year, according to AAA. 

The auto club predicts 34.7 million Americans will commute by highway, air and other forms of transportation. More than 6.3 million of them are expected to be from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Delaware.

AAA estimates more than 1 million North Carolina residents will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday. Of those, 86 percent will drive and 8 percent will fly.

North Carolina resident Carol Lewis is driving down to Scotland County and doesn’t anticipate she’ll be in traffic.

“We’re going to picnic on the bank of the Lumber River, a family picnic, which our family has been doing for about 50 years. We always go,” she said. “We go down U.S. 1 South and then cut across Aberdeen. It’s not a heavy traffic. It’s not like going on (Interstate) 40 with all the beach traffic.”

Since July 4, gas prices have fallen 22 cents a gallon in North Carolina. The state average is $3.34 per gallon.

North Carolina gas prices are 11 cents lower this year than in 2013, according to AAA, and prices that year were down 25 cents a gallon following the price increase brought by Hurricane Isaac.

According to AAA, states with lower averages include Virginia ($3.19), Tennessee ($3.20), Georgia ($3.32) and South Carolina ($3.14), the current lowest average in the country.

Despite low gas prices, some North Carolina residents are spending their weekend at home.

“I’m not traveling. I’m hanging out at home, but I do sometimes,” said Charles Stallings of Raleigh.

Last year on Labor Day weekend, 14 people died and 403 were injured in crashes on North Carolina highways, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Up to midnight on Monday there will be an increased trooper presence on all interstates and major four lane highways.

In addition to increased trooper presence, law enforcement will be conducting various checkpoints on state highways, including the "Booze It and Lose It" campaign which launched on Aug. 15.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is suspending most road construction work on major routes across the state during the weekend.

Most ongoing projects along interstate, N.C. and U.S. routes will be suspended from 4 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Tuesday.