Holiday travelers benefit from lower gas prices
— For those traveling through Maryland this Labor Day weekend, take note of the potentially temperamental weather, low gas prices and heightened police patrols.
Saturday is expected to be in the mid-70s, partly cloudy and run a 40 percent chance of showers, said Al Cope, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, N.J. He said Sunday will have a high in the upper-60s, with a 60 percent chance of rain.
Hurricane Hermine is expected to hit the county on Saturday night into early Sunday, with the potential for heavy rain and tropical winds. He said there is a possibility of local flooding with the storm.
“I’d say winds gusting up to 40 to 45 miles per hour,” Cope said.
On the positive side, people can look forward to lower gas prices for the holiday, at least compared to last year.
The United States average this Labor Day is expected to sit at $2.19 per gallon, which is more than 20 cents lower than the cost in 2015 ($2.40), according to GasBuddy. The national summer average is $2.24, also a decline from 2015, when that number stood at $2.70.
According to a AAA press release, gas prices for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were the lowest since 2005, and that dip has contributed to 55 percent of Americans saying they’d be more likely to take a road trip this year.
“And, if the other summer holidays are any indication, many will be getting away over the last long weekend of summer,” AAA spokesperson Ragina Cooper Avarella said in a prepared statement.
For those planning to travel the Chesapeake Bay Bridge this weekend, the Maryland Department of Transportation officials advise going before 10 a.m. and after 9 p.m. on Friday, and before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday and Monday, travelers are advised to hit the bridge before 10 a.m. and after midnight.
That’s all because MDTA officials expect more than 353,000 to cross the bridge this weekend, and more than 1.8 million motorists to travel its toll facilities altogether.
For those who plan to celebrate the holiday weekend with a bit of alcohol-infused fun, Maryland State Police are taking extra precautions to keep travelers and the roads safe.
Police are anticipating an increased volume of traffic and are advising drivers to expect heightened enforcement of speed limits, seatbelt use and drunk driving laws Labor Day weekend, according to an MSP press release.
The State Police Impaired Driving Reduction Effort team and troopers are slated to be out focusing on impaired, distracted and aggressive drivers to help reduce traffic incidents and those that end in injuries and deaths, police officials stated.
“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” a high visibility enforcement campaign that runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 15, will join state and local police to work together in keeping people safe, officials said.
Operation SHOWBOAT, which focuses on aggressive driving, crash reduction and impaired driving, will concentrate on U.S. Route 50 from Anne Arundel County to Ocean City and Route 13 in Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester counties, according to the release. State police will also conduct sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols, the release stated.
As part of state trooper support for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign, motorists are advised to be aware of the dangers of alcohol, as it tends to reduce one’s control, judgement and coordination, as well as speech and reflexes, officials stated.
Drunken drivers caught by police can face a number of consequences, including jail time, loss of driver’s license, increased insurance rates and expenses such as those for attorney fees, court costs and car towing and repairs, among others. In a worst-case scenario, the impaired driver could kill themselves or someone else, the release noted.
In addition to state and local police patrolling, additional MDTA police will be on the lookout for impaired drivers at toll facilities during the weekend, according to Maryland Department of Transportation officials.
Law enforcement and transportation departments anticipate an increased volume of traffic this Labor Day weekend.