ALPENA - The last summer holiday weekend is upon us and many people have maked their way to Northeast Michigan to enjoy outdoor activities or camping. Labor Day weekend is sure to bring the usual increase in traffic, but there are ways to guarantee a safe and relaxing vacation. Sgt. Rich Tucker of the Michigan State Police Alpena Post said there are simple things travelers can do to avoid accidents, fines or getting pulled over.
"Our main focus is traveling in a safe manner. The biggest thing is patience. The road will be more congested than usual," Tucker said. "During this holiday do not drink and drive or speed, and make sure you wear your seat belt. These are some easy things you can do to avoid getting pulled over."
According to Nancy Cain, AAA spokesperson, a survey taken in July showed the majority of Michigan residents will be traveling 100-400 miles round trip this holiday weekend.
"July 4 is the most driven holiday with 1.4 million people traveling, but this weekend comes close with more than 1.2 million people," Cain said. "It's still very important, a lot of people want to travel."
However, Cain said gas prices significantly increased compared to last year, due to the impact of hurricanes slowing down production. The average cost of gas is $4.08 and compared to the same day last year the price was much lower at $3.77.
"Our survey shows that even if gas prices go up people are still planning on traveling for the Labor Day weekend. A lot of people said they would just cut costs in other areas," Cain said.
According to Cain, 92 percent of travelers in Michigan will be going by vehicle, 4 percent will fly, and the other 4 percent will travel by bus, train or boat.
"It's always a good idea to know your vehicle is in good shape if you're headed for a long trip, also keep an eye on gas," Cain said. "We're really hoping for a safer holiday weekend, last year 12 people died on Michigan roads."
MSP and AAA representatives will be working together this weekend in Operation CARE, a combined accident reduction effort. Banners and representatives will be present at various rest stops throughout Michigan with free coffee and safety tips.
"This holiday weekend more people are traveling, more accidents may occur," Cindi Bauer, DRD representative/biomedical service, said. "In general, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, and one out of every ten people that go to the hospital will require blood. It's a compelling realization that we need to do something."
Bauer said donating blood is critical at this time, especially because the amount of donated blood is extremely low. The next local blood drive will be held Sept. 12 at the First Presbyterian Church in Alpena from 12-6 p.m. and the final summer blood drive will be Sept. 27 at the Alpena Mall. For lists of local blood drives or to learn more about blood donations visit www.redcrossblood.org.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.