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Heavy traffic projected for Labor Day weekend

By Staff | Sep 2, 2016

Approximately 35.5 million people traveled during the Labor Day holiday weekend last year.

According to AAA, it was the highest volume for the holiday since 2008 and it marked the fourth consecutive year of overall travel growth. Around 1.7 million Floridians journeyed 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, which was defined as Sept. 3 through Sept. 7.

While travel estimates for the holiday are unavailable this year, AAA officials pointed out that the average price for a gallon of gas in Florida in 2015 was $2.29. This year, the average is $2.23.

“Since gas prices are lower than last year, we could see even more travelers,” Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman and a senior public relations program coordinator for The Auto Club Group, said.

In Florida, approximately 1.5 million people chose to travel by automobile in 2015, while nearly 131,000 travelers took to the skies. About 94,000 went with another mode of transportation.

On local roadways, law enforcement agencies will be on the lookout over the weekend.

Since Aug. 19, the Cape Coral Police Department and others have been taking part in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. The annual effort will run through midnight Sept. 5.

“Cape Coral police officers will be focusing enforcement efforts on impaired driving,” Sgt. Dana Coston, CCPD spokesman, said. “You can expect to see a noticeable increase in traffic enforcement.”

Those planning to take part in the holiday libations are urged to have a designated driver.

“With all of the celebrations that will be going on around Labor Day, we at the Cape Coral Police Department encourage people to plan ahead,” he said.

Do not allow friends who have been drinking to drive. Officials recommended that people take a taxi, use a ride share app or rely on one of the many low-cost or “free ride” programs that are available.

“A DUI arrest can be incredibly costly – thousands of dollars in fines and fees, loss of driving privileges and hours of lost time due to jail, court, probation and community service,” Coston said. “Not to mention, the potential to injure or kill yourself or someone else and the life-altering consequences that would have.”

“It’s just not worth it,” he added.

AAA and Bud Light are again offering the Tow to Go program today through 6 a.m. Tuesday for the holiday weekend. The aim is to help discourage intoxicated drivers from getting behind the wheel.

The program provides a confidential ride to the intoxicated driver – and a tow for their vehicle – to their home or to a safe location within a 10-mile radius. The service is free and available to anyone.

Drivers do not have to be a AAA member to use the program.

The Florida Highway Patrol offered the following safety tips for the holiday:

* Drive sober and only sober

* Buckle up

* Eliminate distractions

* If you do drink, plan ahead

* Observe and obey all speed limits

“Drinking and driving is deadly. If you drink, be responsible and designate a sober driver or make arrangements to get to your destination safely,” FHP Director Col. Gene Spaulding said. “The choice to drink and drive is a bad decision that could have grave consequences. Be responsible and don’t drink and drive.”

To use the Tow to Go program, call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO (286-9246).