A three-day vacation weekend might prompt some people to take another road trip before summer is over.
Authorities are urging travelers to exercise caution when traveling this Labor Day.
“As Labor Day weekend is a popular time to travel and celebrate, PennDOT urges drivers to plan ahead and designate a sober driver if they are considering drinking,” said Yasmeen Manyisha, Associate. District 11 Safety Press Release.
She reminded drivers to wear seat belts, and Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton reminded drivers to be “alert” and “well prepared.”
“As summer draws to its official end and the remnants of Hurricane Ida ease, families may consider travel options closer to home this year,” Compton said. “If so, we remind those who travel by car that speeding and distracted driving have become much more acute since the pandemic. “
Here are five things drivers should know before hitting the road this Labor Day weekend:
How many people will be on the roads?
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission predicts that more than 2.7 million people will use the freeway between September 2 and September 7.
This marks a 5.6% drop in holiday traffic over the same period in 2019, officials at Turnpike said.
Friday is expected to be the busiest day for travel, according to the Turnpike Commission. Authorities estimate that around 700,000 vehicles will travel on the Turnpike system on Friday.
Turnpike officials estimate around 650,000 vehicles Thursday, 520,000 Saturday, 440,000 Sunday, 450,000 Monday and 590,000 Tuesday.
What will the gas prices be?
The average price of gas in the Pittsburgh area was $ 3.31 on Thursday, according to data compiled by GasBuddy. That’s above the national average, which is between $ 3.16 and $ 3.19.
Around the same time last year, gas prices in Pittsburgh were below $ 2.60, with prices in mid-September falling to $ 2.46, according to GasBuddy. National averages in 2020 were listed at around $ 2.21 in early September.
Should drivers expect slowdowns and roadworks?
In an effort to accommodate heavier vacation traffic, the Pennsylvania toll highway will suspend maintenance and construction from 3 p.m. Thursday until 11 p.m. Monday. All available lanes will be open in each direction throughout the weekend.
Still, Compton warned that drivers should “expect delays and weather changes.”
PennDOT is also suspending “the majority” of its projects on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Manyisha said.
“When it comes to congestion, we generally don’t see much in the area,” she said, although PennDOT does not have specific records of travel numbers.
Drivers can check 511PA.com or the 511PA app for real-time updates on travel restrictions and delays.
Will law enforcement be on alert for impaired drivers?
Local and state law enforcement “will target impaired drivers with application details” this weekend, PennDOT said, urging people not to drive drunk or impaired. intoxicated by illegal drugs or prescription drugs.
In 2020, there were 4,698 accidents, which claimed 39 lives over Labor Day weekend across the state, PennDOT reported. Of those, 231 crashes resulting in 12 fatalities were alcohol-related and 104 wrecks causing three fatalities were drug-related, according to PennDOT.
“The PA Turnpike will have patrols and security teams throughout the system that are there to ensure that travelers get to their destinations safely,” Turnpike officials wrote in a press release. “This means responding to travelers in need of assistance, as well as taking action against illegal or unsafe behavior.”
What Are Health Experts Saying About Labor Day Weekend Travel This Year?
Whether health experts tolerate travel depends on immunization status.
“First and foremost, if you are not vaccinated, we do not recommend traveling,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Tuesday during a press briefing at the White House.
People “fully vaccinated and wearing masks” can travel according to CDC recommendations, Walensky said. But, given the levels of covid-19 transmission in America, people should take “these risks into consideration when thinking about travel,” Walensky said.