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Summer Travel: Hitting the Road for Memorial Day

Photo via Instagram// @heiditakacs

AAA is predicting the busiest Memorial Day travel weekend since the end of the Great Recession.

Just over 36 million Americans are expected to journey 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and next Monday. Mark Jenkins with the auto club’s Tampa office says that’s up one and a half percent from a year ago.

“We had a very harsh winter season, and a lot of people weren’t able to travel much,” said Jenkins. “This the first opportunity for many people to get out there and take that trip.”

Almost nine in 10 travelers will do so by automobile, with dropping gas prices awaiting them on the road. Triple-A reports self-serve regular in Pensacola averaged $3.53 per gallon on Tuesday -- two cents less than a month ago, and a dime lower than last month. That’s the second-lowest among Florida cities, behind Orlando’s $3.52 a gallon.

Also out on the road in higher numbers is law enforcement. Lt. Steve Preston with the Florida Highway Patrol says as always, they’re targeting dangerous drivers.

“Driving impaired, unlawful speed, but we’ll be on the lookout for all different types of hazardous driving, (such as) aggressive driving” Preston said. “We encourage people to be responsible this holiday period. Wear seat belts, refrain from drinking and driving, and slow down.”

Preston says part of the extra FHP presence will be troopers who are getting up from their desks and getting into cruisers during the holiday period. And he adds that information about road conditions and other potential developments, help is just a phone call away by calling the 511 information system for travelers.

AAA’s Mark Jenkins says it’s a good idea to get that car checked over before a long road trip. And for those who overdo it this weekend, Jenkins reminds everyone that their “Tow to Go” program will be available through next Tuesday, May 27.

That Tow-to-Go number is: (855) 286-9246.