Drivers Should Expect More Traffic, More Delays This Labor Day Weekend
AAA is projecting a third straight year of increases in Labor Day automobile travel nationally and in Illinois. The group estimates 1.8 million people will be driving more than 50 miles over the next few days, a 2.6% increase from 2011.
And that’s despite higher gas prices, where statewide the average cost of unleaded gasoline is going for $4.13 per gallon, a full 30 cents per gallon higher than last year according to AAA’s daily Fuel Gauge Report.
More Traffic = Longer Delays
With more cars on the road, expect slightly longer travel times this holiday according to INRIX, a company that provides traffic data and information.
INRIX predicts Chicago will have the 8th worst Labor Day holiday traffic in the nation, despite the Windy City’s 10th place rank in overall traffic congestion.
If you want to avoid traffic getting out of town this weekend, hit the road no later than lunch time or after 9 PM Friday. Otherwise, INRIX spokeperson Jim Bak recommends waiting until Saturday morning to depart.
“Traffic Friday will look like a longer version of a normal Friday rush hour, meaning conditions will be unpleasant well into the evening,” says Bak, INRIX Director of Community Relations. “Travelers thinking they’ll avoid extra traffic by waiting for Saturday to depart will have better luck as long as they’re on the road before lunchtime, as traffic will pick up around 2 p.m. and peak between 3 and 4 p.m.”
IDOT Suspends Road Construction Over Holiday
In order to ease traffic congestion and improve flow, the Illinois Department of Transportation will be suspending all non-emergency roadwork over the holiday weekend starting at 3 PM Friday.
“During the Labor Day holiday, we will again suspend all non-emergency road work on state roadways, where possible, to improve traffic flow and to kick-start the heavily traveled weekend,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “To reduce potential roadway congestion and improve safety, we are also providing a list of lane closures on our website, with a breakdown by county, to help motorists plan their trips.”
IDOT also urges drivers to slow down, obey speed limits and be cautious in work zones as work zone speed limits are still in effect wherever posted even if no workers are present.
All roadwork construction projects will resume after midnight on Monday.
Expect Heavy Traffic Safety Enforcement
IDOT and the Illinois State Police will also be spearheading their normally massive traffic enforcement working with over 350 municipal and county law enforcement in conducting over 200 roadside safety checks and hundreds of additional checks for impaired driving and safety belt compliance.
“IDOT is committed to improving safety on Illinois roadways, protecting innocent motorists from those who make the wrong choice to drink and drive, and driving zero fatalities to reality,” said Schneider. “This Labor Day weekend, law enforcement across the state is cracking down on impaired drivers and seat belt law violators, as it is proven this approach consistently and effectively improves traffic safety, prevents motor vehicle crashes and fatalities as well as minimizes potential injuries on Illinois roadways.”
While IDOT reports nine people lost their lives in vehicle crashes last Labor Day weekend, the Illinois State Police are pushing for zero fatalities this year by enforcing what they call the “Fatal 4″, which includes: speeding, DUI, seat belts, and distracted driving.
“Every motorist should think twice before drinking and driving this Labor Day weekend”, said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. “Law enforcement officers statewide will be enforcing the Fatal 4 traffic laws, and those motorists who choose to violate the traffic laws will face the consequences.”
During the four day holiday last year, State Police issued 2,536 tickets for speeding, 740 seatbelt violations, 40 distracted driver violations and made 69 DUI arrests.