The improved economy and lower gas prices are expected to help drive a 5 percent increase in Labor Day travel by North Carolina drivers, according to AAA Carolinas.
About 972,600 North Carolina residents may travel more than 50 miles from home during the five-day travel period, which runs Thursday through Monday.
"As the economy has steadily improved in the Carolinas, more families will take advantage of the last holiday weekend of the summer," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, in a news release. "Beyond that, gas prices heading into this weekend are the lowest they've been for any Labor Day holiday since 2010."
North Carolina's average gas price fell to $3.46 on Tuesday, down nearly 8 percent from an average of $3.72 preceding the weekend last year. For Labor Day 2011, gas prices in North Carolina averaged $3.57 and in 2010 they were $2.58.
According to AAA Carolinas, gas prices remained low in spite of Mideast tensions due to abundant oil supplies, refineries operating at high capacity and no current threat of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, prices were also affected by Hurricane Isaac.
The American Automobile Association affiliate reported that the majority of travelers, 46 percent, will leave Friday, and 43 percent will return Monday, with another 42 percent returning Tuesday.
The most popular driving destinations for Carolina travelers are Asheville, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Charleston, S.C., Charlotte and San Francisco, according to the AAA Vacations travel agency.
Throughout North Carolina, law enforcement officers will be in full force for the "Booze It & Lose It" campaign, which started Aug. 16 and runs through Monday. The campaign includes checkpoints and stepped-up patrols in an effort to remove intoxicated drivers from the roads.
Most construction projects along interstate, N.C. and U.S. routes will be suspended from 4 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Tuesday with some exceptions.
For information on construction delays, go to the N.C. Department of Transportation website at www.ncdot.org.
AAA Carolinas' survey data is taken from AAA's Leisure Travel Index, AAA/HIS Global Insight holiday travel forecast and AAA Carolinas data.
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