TOPEKA — AAA projects approximately 2.7 million people will travel in the region including Kansas this weekend.
The forecast looked at the number of people projected to travel at least 50 miles from home between Thursday and Monday. If the projections are correct, the roads would be their busiest since 2008, and the third-busiest they have been this decade. Nationwide, AAA projected about 35.5 million people would travel at least 50 miles.
Low gas prices and wages that are rising — albeit slowly — might have made Americans more comfortable spending money on travel, according to a news release.
Jim Hanni, spokesman for AAA Kansas, said approximately 90 percent of the people traveling for the Labor Day weekend in Kansas plan to drive. About one-third plan to leave Friday, and 43 percent plan to return Monday, so travelers looking to avoid crowded roads might travel other days. The region also includes Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.
Average gas prices in Kansas rose about a penny Thursday to $2.38. The average was 90 cents lower than Sept. 3, 2014.
Kansas members of AAA said their top destinations were Mount Rushmore, Colorado and Kansas City. The data includes only people who used AAA’s trip planning services, however, so those destinations likely aren’t representative of the rest of the region’s plans.
AAA issued the following tips for Labor Day travelers:
• Don’t post on social media that you will be traveling. Burglers tend to target houses that appear empty.
• Lock away bills, bank statements and other documents with personal information. These are valuable to identity thieves. Hide prescription medications, automatic garage door openers and keys for vehicles left at home. Consider taking a video to document your valuables.
• Put a few lights on timers with varying start times, and stop your mail and newspaper deliveries. Notify your alarm company and a trusted neighbor you will be away.
• Check vehicle batteries, fluid levels, tires, belts and hoses before hitting the road. Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s, which can tax vehicles. AAA responded to 1,100 calls for assistance during Labor Day weekend in 2014, including 479 for tows and 250 for battery problems.
• The Kansas Turnpike Authority and State Farm Safety Assist also will offer help during the weekend. Help will be available by calling 582 between Topeka and Kansas City and between Wichita and the Oklahoma border. KTA advised drivers to remember to take frequent breaks, as well as follow all traffic laws, including wearing their seatbelts and avoiding alcohol if they plan to drive.