Labor Day travel expected to be up over last year; gas prices moderate

WTOP's Mike Murillo talks to travelers along I-95 in Laurel, Maryland

AAA expects more people to travel this Labor Day weekend than those who did in 2022.

Ragina Ali, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson in Maryland and D.C., said most Labor Day vacationers drive to their destinations, given the short duration.

“Whether you are hitting the road, headed to the airport or getting ready to sail over the holiday weekend, travelers should expect a lot of company and plan accordingly,” Ali said.

Gas prices have been on the rise since July, but the price is currently less than it was at the same time last year.

As of Monday, Aug. 28, the national gas price average was $3.81 — 4 cents less than last year. Maryland’s average was $3.73 — 6 cents less than last year’s $3.79. In the District, drivers are paying $3.98 per gallon of unleaded — 9 cents less than last year’s $4.07.

Ali said it’s not just roads that will be busy. According to AAA booking data, flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises are all up from last year.

WTOP's Sandra Jones talks to travelers feeling the burn at the pump

Best and worst times to travel by car

Citing data from INRIX, a transportation data provider, Ali said Thursday, Aug. 31, between 2 and 6 p.m., will be the busiest time on the roads during the long weekend. And, Friday, Sept. 1 between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. is also expected to have higher than normal traffic volume.

“Drivers who have flexibility in planning are encouraged to travel at off-peak hours — before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m.,” Ali said.

While many jurisdictions limit road construction projects during the holiday travel period, AAA is reminding drivers to slow down and move over for first responders.

“The Move Over law requires motorists to slow down and when possible, to change lanes, moving away from police, fire and emergency personnel on the roadside, including tow drivers,” according to the membership corporation working on behalf of motorists. “In Maryland and Virginia, the state’s ‘Move Over’ laws also include any stationary vehicle displaying hazard lights, warning signs or flares.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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