DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — An improving economy and lower gas prices could help make this year the busiest Labor Day travel weekend in nearly a decade.
“We are expecting a busy weekend for travel,” admitted Cindy Antrican of AAA.
Thirty-five million people will pack the car and hit the highway this Labor Day weekend. Here in Ohio, 1.4 million are expected to travel.
If you’re one of the people planning to drive, you’ll notice gas prices are very different than they were one year ago.
“Gas being down helps everything go a little bit smoothly,” stated Nick Bellanco who is driving to Northern Ohio for the weekend.
According to AAA, gas prices nationwide are down 15 cents a gallon compared to this time last year. In the Miami Valley, drivers are paying an average of $3.36 for a gallon of regular, which is down 21 cents from this time last year.
This year is expected to be the busiest Labor Day travel weekend since 2008’s Great Recession and not just because of falling gas prices. According to experts, consumer confidence is on the upswing. Unemployment is down and job growth is up. Some experts contend more people traveling is another sign the once ailing economy is healthier.
“People have more money in their pockets and look a little more willing to spend it,” said CNBC Senior Economics Reporter Steve Liesman.
Drivers say that’s good news.
“Absolutely. You can go out at least once a little bit more if you are saving a few bucks not filling up,” said Bellanco.
When it comes to driving, AAA has a warning for drivers.
“Your automobile maintenance does not take a vacation. You need to stay on top of that. Check the life of your battery, belts hoses, tires, things like that before you travel” reminded Antrican.
Last weekend, AAA said it had an 11% increase in calls for help. AAA says it may be related to the high heat. AAA will do free battery tests for you.
While you may be looking forward to fun in the sun this weekend, just be prepared for potential headaches on the highway.
“The highways could be very busy and if you’re planning to leave at a peak time like that pack your patience. Put away the distractions, pay attention, top priority is driving,” said Antrican.