On the road again

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vehicles travel along U.S. Highway 231 in Troy Wednesday afternoon.

Vehicles travel along U.S. Highway 231 in Troy Wednesday afternoon.

Alabama travelers expected to hit the highway in full force this holiday weekend

While AAA Travel projects that national Memorial Day traffic will be slightly lower than last year, that’s not the case for Alabama.

“Our schools are out here where they aren’t in other parts of the country and the weather is nice here in Alabama,” explained Clay Ingram with AAA Alabama. “The beaches are back and in full swing. I think it’s going to be a little busier here in Alabama.”

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AAA estimates that 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The group also expects 89 percent of travelers to take their trips by automobile. Travelers intend to journey an average of 690 miles, which is higher than last year’s average of 642 miles.

According to the 105 people who participated in a weekend poll on troymessenger.com, 71 percent of voters said they won’t be traveling this year and 13 percent reported they aren’t sure yet.

While gas prices may not be where consumers would like them to be, a survey by AAA found that gasoline pries wouldn’t have an impact on plans for about 62 percent of travelers.

“We are actually 11 cents per gallon less than we were last year,” Ingram shared. “I would encourage people to keep an eye on gas prices and purchase the cheapest gas you can find, though.”

That’s because, Ingram explained, where consumers shop drives the price of gas.

“The more we price shop, the lower our prices are going to be,” Ingram said.

And before travelers hit the road for their Memorial Day destinations, Ingram said there are three important things everyone should do.

First, get vehicles checked by certified technicians to make sure everything is in top shape.

“Nothing ruins a family vacation or getaway quicker than being stranded on the side of the road,” Ingram said. “Check belts, hoses, fluid levels and tire pressure.”

Having properly inflated tires can help with gas mileage and the life of tires.

Second, do anything possible to eliminate or reduce the distraction of the driver, Ingram suggests. From handing snacks out to answering cell phones and reading maps, the front seat passenger should be the co-pilot for all those duties.

Finally, pad your travel schedule a little bit. There will be more cars on the road this weekend than on normal weekends. The drive will take a little longer to get to the beach or other destinations. Preparing for that will cut down on road rage and frustrations.

“Go ahead and eliminate that stress and worry,” Ingram said. “Less aggressive driving can even save money on gas.”