Chicago Boasts Highest Gas Prices In Nation On Eve Of Labor Day Holiday Weekend
Expect Increased Enforcement, Heavy Traffic For Holiday
As many Chicagoans prepare to leave town for a long Labor Day holiday weekend, local drivers will face the highest gas prices in the nation.
It’s not really a surprise that gas prices rise right before a major getaway weekend. There’s always a mild spike before the Labor Day weekend.
Demand goes up, prices rise. Nothing new here.
But in Chicago gas prices aren’t just artificially high due to the holiday, but rank as the highest gas prices of any city in America according to gas price tracking website GasBuddy.com.
GasBuddy’s local site, ChicagoGasPrices.com has the average price of regular unleaded gasoline pegged at $4.04 as of late Thursday night–four cents a gallon higher than second place, Honolulu, HI and $1.18 per gallon higher than 2010.
Automobile Travel Flat Predicts AAA
Despite the fact that gas is over 40% higher than last year, AAA estimates a tiny increase in the number of people traveling by car this holiday weekend. AAA projects 1.6 million people from Illinois will be taking a car trip this weekend, just a .1 percent increase over 2010.
Overall, AAA believes travel will be down nationally, but car travel mildly up possibly due to declining gas prices which are about 10% lower than record highs that peaked around Memorial Day.
“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 Brad Roeber, regional president of AAA Chicago. “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.”
Traffic Enforcement Will Be High
As usual, motor vehicle enforcement will be very intense this weekend on Illinois roadways.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police, working with over 350 local law enforcement agencies, will conduct nearly 100 roadside safety checks statewide this weekend.
While 12 people lost their lives, and 763 people were injured in car accidents in Illinois last year, the Illinois State Police are aiming for “zero fatalities” by enforcing the four most common causes of fatal car crashes: speeding, distracted driving, not wearing a seat belt and DUI according to the ISP.
“Troopers will saturate the expressways and roadways looking for speeders, impaired drivers, seat belt violators and distracted drivers,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Drivers have the choice of spending the holiday weekend safely, or in jail. Anyone getting behind the wheel should think twice and drive responsibly because ISP troopers will be waiting and watching for Fatal 4 violators.”
Last year, Illinois State Police issued 4,707 tickets for speeding violations during the 4-day holiday period from Friday to Monday. During that same time period, there were 67 DUI arrests; 1,699 seatbelt violations; and 27 distracted driver violations.
“Whether a motorist is driving under the influence, or influencing criminal activity, our troopers will maintain zero tolerance for breaking the law,” he stressed.
Expect High Traffic Friday Afternoon, Sunday Evening
Traditionally, travelers leaving the Chicago metro area begins around lunch time according to NewsRadio 780 traffic reporter Steven Haas. This according to Haas will give make for an extended and prolonged evening rush hour on Friday.
On the way back Monday evening, drivers should expect major delays from late afternoon well into late evening as late as 10 PM.
The best advice is to leave early and come home early. Or if you can, leave late and return late. Both strategies work to keep your travel times from increasing due to traffic backups in and out of the city.
But Haas’ best tip is just to relax and take it easy–even if you hit some traffic..
“Slow down, keep your cool, and get there alive,” says Haas. “There will be plenty of state troopers out there to make sure everyone drives nice.”