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Late Labor Day Could Mean Fewer Travel Traffic Headaches

September 4, 2009

Packing up the vehicle for a holiday weekend away? It might be one of the more pleasant times to be out on the crowded highways, relative to recent years.

Overall holiday traffic will likely be down a bit this year versus last. But based on research from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and IHS Global Insight, that’s likely to be less due to economic factors than simply when Labor Day weekend falls on the calendar. Labor Day this year falls on Monday the 7th of September, after most children have already gone back to school.

Last year, Labor Day weekend travel was at its highest this decade, despite surging auto fuel and air ticket prices. This year airfares are 17 percent lower, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, and lodging prices are down about 12 percent.

AAA says that the average family will spend about $968 this weekend, with transportation and lodging costs making up about 47 percent of that. About 84 percent of holiday weekend travelers are expected to drive, with the average traveler going 645 miles round-trip.

“Our forecast shows Labor Day travel will be up over this summer’s 4th of July holiday and that’s a positive sign,” commented Robert Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA, in a release from last week.

The price of gas is expected to remain at an average $2.60 a gallon nationally; that’s a whole dollar less than year-ago levels.

Google Maps traffic - Los Angeles

Google Maps traffic - Los Angeles

One last thing you’ll definitely want to check before leaving is road construction. To find sites with detailed local and regional information, start with the Federal Highway Administration’s National Traffic and Road Closure Information. And if you don’t have live traffic on your nav system, try Google Maps' newly expanded traffic features from the mobile device of your choice. wishes you a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

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