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Labor Day bringing more staycations than travel

Gas prices, traffic travel issues for some local residents
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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One agency says travel will be down this holiday weekend, and some local residents said if they do have plans, they aren’t going far. According to Cynthia Harris, spokeswoman for AAA Northern California, AAA is predicting more than 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this weekend, representing an overall decrease of 2.6 percent compared to last year. “California travelers are reacting to the most recent economic downturns and that is having a significant effect on discretionary spending,” Harris said. “Nonetheless, with a pent up desire to get away for the last holiday of the season, we could see an increase in last-minute weekend travel.” Harris said car trips are expected to be the preferred method of travel this weekend, with more than 3 million Californians planning to drive to their destinations. Auburn resident Jim Underhill said he doesn’t have any specific plans for the weekend because he is hoping to avoid traffic, and since his wife passed away he stays closer to home and spends some time with his family. Underhill said at certain times of the day on long weekends such as this one there seems to be more traffic than normal. Foresthill residents Dan and Renee Salewsky said they do have some plans for the weekend, but they aren’t traveling very far. “We will be going to the (Foresthill Divide) Heritage Celebration in (Foresthill) Memorial Park,” Renee Salewsky said. Dan Salewsky said the farthest he plans to travel is to Roseville for high school football, and said the couple doesn’t normally travel on weekends such as this one because of possible traffic. “We elect to try not to travel on holiday weekends just because in the past it has been so busy,” he said. Renee Salewsky said gas prices going up is also an issue. Foresthill resident Celia, who declined to give her last name, said traffic and gas prices are also a concern for her and her husband. “We don’t usually go anywhere on holiday weekends because of the traffic,” she said. “We are staying home this weekend, too. We don’t like the busy, busy times. The gas, I mean (the prices are) high to do any traveling. So, I think that’s a big factor right there. When are the prices coming down?” Placer County law enforcement agencies are continuing their Avoid the 7 crackdown on drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol through Labor Day. The campaign began Aug. 19, and as of Aug. 30 officers had arrested 69 people for driving under the influence, according to Officer Todd Rayback, with the Lincoln Police Department. Sgt. Douglas Milligan, with the California Highway Patrol Office in Newcastle, said there are several things drivers should remember to do this weekend. “Maintain safe following distance, remember to buckle up, stay off your cell phones, pay attention to your driving and be courteous,” Milligan said. “Every major holiday we have a maximum enforcement period, and it will be the same for the Labor Day weekend. We will be focusing on looking for accident-causing violations and DUIs.” According to Harris, AAA is offering its free Tipsy Tow service again from 6 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. The program is available for AAA members and non-members and offers drinking drivers a one-way tow and ride of up to five miles to the driver’s home. To use the program call (800) 222-4357 and ask for a Tipsy Tow. Milligan said officers have seen some change in the travel habits on these types of weekends. “We haven’t seen a big difference,” he said. “We are lower staffed so we are always busy. But it seems like people are doing closer things. They are just going to the lake or movies. They are still traveling, maybe not as far.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Travel statistic for Labor Day weekend according to AAA • Airfares are expected to rise this weekend by 13 percent from 2010, with an average cost of $202 per ticket for the top 40 U.S. air routes. • The travel costs for a West Coast family of four are expected to average $627 over the weekend. • The average road trip is predicted to cover 498 miles. • Shopping, visits with friends and relatives and dining are expected to be the preferred fun activities for West Coast families. • Weekend car rentals are expected to decrease by 7 percent, with a new average rate of $43.