Local News

Gas prices, drunk driving concerns of Labor Day travelers

Posted August 29, 2008 6:59 a.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2008 3:58 p.m. EDT

— High gas prices will keep some Americans home over Labor Day weekend, but millions more plan to hit the asphalt, and law enforcement agencies will step up patrols to protect them.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in North Carolina is down nearly 40 cents from Memorial Day, to about $3.60.

However, that price is up from $2.78 during the 2007 Labor Day weekend, and AAA officials predict that difference will keep some North Carolinians from traveling this weekend.

About 720,300 North Carolinians are expected to drive more than 100 miles round-trip, a 0.08 percent decrease from the 2007 number of Labor Day road travelers, AAA said.

To ease vacation travel times and keep driving conditions safe, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is suspending highway construction this weekend. The suspension will go from 4 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Tuesday.

An exception is the construction zone along Interstate 85 in Vance County, where lane closures will continue and delays are likely.

Law enforcement agents will join the crusade for highway safety, continuing the statewide Booze It and Lose It campaign against drunk driving.

"It'll be a big holiday weekend for us," Trooper Eric Hunt said.

Troopers, deputies and police officers will conduct extra sobriety checkpoints and patrols across the state throughout the weekend.

The Labor Day Booze It and Lose it campaign kicked off on Aug. 8, 2008 – the date itself a reminder of the state's legal blood-alcohol concentration limit of 0.08. Two checkpoints in Raleigh that Friday netted 162 charges, including 20 for driving while impaired.

The Highway Patrol's commander, Col. Walter Wilson Jr., has ordered troopers to enforce speed laws aggressively. Troopers also will be watching for aggressive drivers who follow too closely and make erratic lane changes.

Troopers said the ultimate goal of the campaign is to save lives.

"Definitely, on a holiday weekend, we see more fatalities and motor vehicle collisions," Hunt said.

The patrol said 1,189 crashes killed 19 people and injured 584 in North Carolina during the 2007 holiday weekend.