Georgia auto travel expected to increase

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Georgia auto travel this summer is expected to increase by 15 percent from a year ago, as stable gas prices and a stressful economy lead families to visit the beach, historic cities and theme parks to “recharge,” AAA data show.

A projected 7.4 million Georgia residents, 75 percent of the state population, will hit the road between May and Sep­tember, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey.

To go with the expected travel increase, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office will have more deputies patrolling.

Last year, 80 crashes occurred over Memorial Day weekend in Richmond Coun­ty – 30 involving a head-on or angled collision or an overturned vehicle, according to local wreck data. Keith McGarity, the statistician at the sheriff’s office, said local figures do not take into account injuries and fatalities.

Lt. Ramone Lamkin, head of the sheriff’s office’s traffic division, said this year marks the first Memorial Day weekend the agency will have a division focused exclusively on traffic enforcement. The result, he said, will be a more concentrated effort on major highways, mainly Interstate 20 and Peach Orchard Road. In the past, deputies had to be brought in for special assignment to work the holiday weekend, Lamkin said.

With Georgia gas prices hovering around $3.45 – 20 cents less than the national average – 64 percent plan to spend $1,500 or less on their summer vacation, a little less than last year, according to the AAA survey. The top three vacation destinations include beach getaways (55 percent), city destinations (50 percent), and trips to theme parks/attractions (25 percent).

AAA estimates 443,550 South Carolina motorists – a 1.5 percent increase over last year – will hit the road as the summer travel season kicks off. South Carolina’s average gas price of $3.24 is currently the lowest in the country.

Last Memorial Day, South Carolina recorded eight deaths on its roads, one involving a pedestrian and six others involving people not wearing seat belts or helmets. While there were no fatalities in Aiken, so far this year the county has had 12 motor vehicle fatalities, three of which involved motorcycles.

Lance Cpl. Judd Jones, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said the patrol is teaming up with local agencies to hold checkpoints and saturation patrols to make sure motorists buckle their seat belts, wear helmets and do not drink and drive.

CURRENT AND PAST PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline

 CurrentWeek AgoMonth AgoYear Ago
National:$3.649$3.576$3.506$3.701
Florida:$3.464$3.471$3.488$3.566
Georgia:$3.447$3.435$3.350$3.476
South Carolina:$3.24$3.23$3.34$3.33
Tennessee:$3.261$3.254$3.297$3.428

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