Drivers beware: Cops to beef up patrol

Published 12:01 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Millions are set to travel this weekend. AAA says that gas prices are expected to drop after the holiday weekend. | File photo

AAA forecasts 31.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Those traveling in and through Covington County should obey the traffic laws as area law enforcement will be out participating in the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

Earlier this summer, Governor Robert Bentley announced the count was to share in a nearly $68,000 traffic enforcement grant to facilitate traffic initiative.

As part of the initiative, area law enforcement began targeting impaired drivers Thursday and will continue their increased patrols to the end of the Labor Day holiday travel period on Monday.

AAA reports the traffic numbers are a 2.4 percent decrease from the 32.3 million people who traveled one year ago.

“AAA is projecting a decrease in the number of Labor Day travelers as some Americans react to recent economic uncertainty and increasing air fares,” said Clay Ingram, AAA Alabama spokesperson. “While automobile travel is expected to increase slightly, if recent declines in gasoline prices continue through Labor Day, we could see an increase in last-minute holiday weekend travel.”

The decrease in expected travelers is a result of a mixed economic outlook, consumer uncertainty regarding the overall economy, and recent downturns in economic factors that affect discretionary income, which is particularly relevant to the travel and tourism industry.

Locals awaiting a gas price decrease may get their wishes after the Labor Day holiday, Ingram said.

Throughout the holiday weekend gas prices won’t change much, he said.

“But after the holiday, we should see prices start to drop significantly,” he said. “This is the time of year when our demand starts to drop significantly, and it is already much lower than it was last year, so we should be in line for some decreases throughout the fall.”

Just how much of a decrease is unclear, Ingram said.

“It’s tough to say how much, but when you consider that our prices are roughly a $1 per gallon higher no than they were at this time last year, and our demand is about 3 percent less, it would appear that we might have a lot of room to drop.”

Statewide prices vary greatly, with some stations as high as $3.74 per gallon, while others are as low as $3.29 per gallon, Ingram said.

Locally, prices average $3.51 per gallon in Andalusia; $3.65 per gallon in Florala and $3.48 per gallon in Opp.

Last year, gas was $2.46 per gallon in Andalusia; $2.59 per gallon in Florala and $2.46 per gallon in Opp.

Ingram said it’s very important for motorists to price shop for the cheapest gas along their normal travel areas.

“That would be a tremendous help in getting our gas prices lower,” he said.