Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
An estimated 1.1 million Michiganians have Labor Day holiday travel plans, according to a recent survey by AAA. The number of travelers hitting the highway for the traditional end-of-summer getaway compares favorably with year-ago levels in the Great Lakes region (the Great Lakes region includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin).
Ninety-two percent of travelers in the Great Lakes region will travel by car, truck or van. Only 8 percent will travel by air, unchanged from last year.
“Despite high gas prices and increased vacation costs, there is quite a bit of pent-up demand,” said Claire Lockley, vice president of Travel for The Auto Club Group (ACG). “For domestic travel, Labor Day represents the last opportunity to take advantage of the nice weather before school starts. This is also a good time for last minute cruise and tour specials.”
This year’s Labor Day travel period caps a summer of high gas prices and a stalled economy. As of August 27, the average Michigan price was $2.958 per gallon for self-serve regular fuel (17.2 cents higher than last year).
AAA’s gas saving tips for vacation travelers include:
- Take the most direct route, reduce your chances of getting lost and avoid known holiday traffic bottlenecks by getting directions with AAA.com’s TripTik® travel planner or from public Web sites like www.AAAmaps.com.
- Shop around for the least expensive gas by watching prices before you need to fill-up. AAA’s Fuel Finder website helps drivers find the lowest cost fuel at local stations. Access the AAA Fuel Finder at local AAA club websites.
- Drive your most fuel efficient vehicle that works for your trip.
- Know before you go by using AAA’s www.fuelcostcalculator.com web site. Just plug in the make and model of your car and where you are traveling and you will get an estimate of how much you will be spending on gas for the trip.
- Keep your car well-maintained by keeping tires properly inflated and having a professional technician inspect your vehicle before you go.
- Drive gently. Excessive braking and accelerating reduces fuel economy, as does driving faster than highway speed limits.
For those who are flying to their final Labor Day destination, AAA travel agents offer the following tips for budget-conscious travelers:
- Be flexible with travel dates; be willing to travel midweek versus the weekend.
- Book your trip early.
- Check on reduced airfares if booking a hotel or car rental at the same time.
- Investigate the costs of staying offsite versus onsite for a particular destination, such as a theme park.
- If flying, try alternate airports.
- Pack snacks in a carry-on that can serve as a quick lunch.
- Review your insurance policies prior to departure to determine if you need extra coverage, such as with a rental car company.
During the 2007 Labor Day holiday, travelers’ accommodations are distributed as follows: staying with friends or relatives (36 percent); hotel, motel or resort (30 percent); own cabin or condo (11 percent); in a trailer or RV (10 percent).
For state residents planning a summer vacation in Michigan, the five most popular driving destinations are: 1) Mackinaw City, 2) Traverse City, 3) Muskegon, 4) Sault Ste. Marie, and 5) Ludington (based on 2007 TripTik®
The official 78-hour Labor Day holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, (August 31) and runs to 11:59 p.m. Monday, (September 3).
During last year’s Labor Day holiday period, 7 people died in 7 fatal crashes on roads across the state. That was down from the 2005 holiday, when 15 people died in 15 fatal crashes. Two of last year’s fatal crashes were alcohol-related, and safety restraints were used by none of the victims who had them available.
To reduce these numbers this Labor Day holiday, all drivers are urged to use safety belts, avoid alcohol, stay alert at the wheel and observe all traffic laws.
Michigan law enforcement agencies will embark on a new program to make this the safest summer on record by continuing increased traffic patrols to strictly enforce safety belt and drunk driving laws. The enhanced traffic enforcement effort is being supported by federal traffic safety funds.
The Auto Club advises motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time to navigate construction areas on the state’s highways.
For traffic and detour information, motorists can call 1-800-AAA-MICH (222-6424). Or, before leaving, check the AAA Michigan Web site, www.aaatraffic.com
, for updated traffic information.
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