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Holiday travel numbers expected to be highest in last dozen years

By Staff | May 25, 2017

Approximately 39.3 million people are projected to travel during the Memorial Day weekend.

According to AAA, the numbers represent Americans nationwide who will travel more than 50 miles away from home. Almost 35 million of them will hit the road – the highest number in 12 years.

This can present a distinct danger when combined with holiday-related impaired driving.

“If you’re celebrating with alcohol this weekend and not planning ahead, you are risking more lives than just your own,” Amy Stracke, managing director for AAA The Auto Club Group’s Traffic Safety Advocacy and executive director for AAA The Auto Club Group’s Traffic Safety Foundation, said.

“Please take time to make sure that you, your loved ones and everyone else on the road can get home safety,” she added via a prepared statement.

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

“It’s another holiday weekend and this is going to fall right in line with our new traffic-targeted initiative,” Lt. Dana Coston, with the Cape Coral Police Department, said.

He explained that it focuses on speeding, aggressive driving and other traffic-related issues.

“Because of the holiday weekend and the extra number of cars on the road, we always emphasize to our road Patrol Unit that they have to give extra attention to the drivers on the road,” Coston said.

Officials offered a few tips to keep everyone safe over the holiday weekend.

“Expect that there are going to be a larger number of vehicle on the road,” he said.

“Give yourself extra time,” Coston added.

For those celebrating with libations, take a taxi or Uber, have a designated driver or stay put.

“The average cost of the first DUI is in excess of $10,000 and that’s assuming no serious injury or hospitalization,” he said, explaining that planning ahead can help to save lives and one’s money.

“It’s literally a thousand times less expensive to get a ride,” Coston said.

Keep your eyes on the road and avoid distracted driving.

“Make sure that you’re not using your portable electronic devices in the car while you’re driving,” he said, adding that drivers should let passengers read the directions or pull over first if they are alone.

“Focus your attention on the road and not on your mobile device,” Coston said.

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.

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