Editorial: Low prices at the pump could mean most Labor Day travelers in years

Aug. 27, 2014 @ 12:22 PM

With gas prices relatively low, AAA is predicting this Labor Day weekend will see the most travel the holiday weekend has had since 2008.

"Record high oil production is keeping downward pressure on gas prices," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA, The Auto Club Group. "The bottom fell out again on oil prices last week, which should lead to another week of discounts at the pump despite rising demand."

Gas prices are down and consumer spending is up, Jenkins said, "which should help generate the most travelers for the Labor Day holiday since the record setting 45 million in 2008.”

According to the AAA, average fuel prices in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are all lower than last year's Labor Day by 22 cents, 21 cents, and 18 cents, respectively.   

AAA Travel is projecting 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home over the weekend, a 1.3 percent increase over last year.

That travel, coupled with a slew of Labor Day sales, could mean good news for our local economy.

But as with any good news, there's bad news sprinkled in.

With the long weekend and the start of college football season, there are sure to be some drunk drivers on the roadways.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, intoxicated driving increases during the annual holiday weekend.

"In 2012, there were 147 people killed in drunk driving crashes over Labor Day weekend," the group said recently. "To put that into perspective, throughout the year someone is killed in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes, on average. Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one every 34 minutes."

Last year, 16 people were killed on Tennessee's roads during the 96-hour Labor Day weekend period that begins Friday.

Law enforcement, from the local level up to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, will be out in force to try to dissuade impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.

The highway patrol will conduct a “No Refusal” enforcement campaign during that time. The “No Refusal” legislation allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.

“Law enforcement officials have another tool to utilize to deter impaired driving and reduce fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways by conducting ‘No Refusal’ enforcements,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott said in a release. “We have chosen to implement this enforcement in each of the eight highway patrol districts, and with the help of various local law enforcement agencies across the state. The ultimate goal is remove drunk drivers from our roadways and to save lives."

If you are going to drink this weekend, do so responsibly. Don't drive. The risk to yourself — and more importantly, to others — isn't worth it.