- AAA predicts that 34.1 million Americans will travel this Labor Day weekend, compared to 32.7 million in 2012.
- AAA says the increase is primarily due to an improving economy and fuel prices that are 21 cents per gallon lower than last year.
- Motorists should be aware that the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown on drunk drivers is underway.
ORLANDO, Florida — AAA predicts more Americans will travel this Labor Day than last year, primarily due to lower gas prices and an improving economy.
The AAA Labor Day Travel Forecast is projecting that 34.1 million Americans will take trips of 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, a 4.2 percent increase from the 32.7 million who traveled on Labor Day in 2012. AAA says the expected increase is the result of a surge in consumer spending and gas prices that average $3.54 per gallon nationwide, a drop of 21 cents from last year.
A favorable housing market may be another factor in the upswing in travel. Said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet in a statement: "For many Americans, their home is also their biggest asset. As home prices improve in many parts of the country more families are feeling comfortable about traveling this Labor Day holiday."
If you're hitting the road this weekend, you won't be alone. AAA says that 85 percent of Labor Day travelers will be going by car, an increase of 4.3 percent from last year. That amounts to 29.2 million people, compared to 28 million in 2012.
Overall, travelers expect to take shorter trips this year, according to AAA, an average of 594 miles, compared to 626 miles in 2012. But this will vary by region. In the compact New England area, only 15 percent of round trips will be 700 miles or more, while in the more expansive mountain region that number climbs to 55 percent.
Commensurate with the improvement in the economy, spending on trips will increase this year. AAA says the average traveler will shell out $804 this weekend, compared to $749 in 2012. The bulk of this expenditure will be on lodging and food, accounting for 24 percent and 21 percent of the travel budget, respectively.
Those planning car trips this weekend are advised to exercise caution. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA have announced the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown on drunk drivers.
With NHTSA data showing that almost 10,000 people per year lose their lives from drunk-driving crashes, law enforcement agencies across the country will be out in force this weekend. The U.S. Department of Transportation is also kicking off a $14-million national advertising campaign to publicize the dangers of impaired driving.
"Drunk driving remains a serious, deadly crime that all too often destroys the lives of innocent victims," said Secretary Foxx in a statement. "We're sending a message today that we will not tolerate drunk driving, so if you have had too much to drink, don't get behind the wheel."
The annual AAA Labor Day Travel Forecast combines information from the databases of IHS Global Insight and the AAA Traveler Profile. The IHS data includes such economic and market indicators as employment levels, household net worth, interest rates, fuel prices and hotel stays. The AAA Traveler Profile is based on a survey of 1,350 households, with detailed questions asking about intended travel plans for the period from Thursday, August 29 to Monday, September 2.
Edmunds says: "It's a long way down the holiday road," so fire up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and let the Vacation begin.