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Gas Prices: Cheapest Labor Day Travel in Four Years

AAA projects that the majority of Labor Day travelers will take a road trip

DENVER (Sept. 2, 2020) - While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the national travel outlook in the near-term, one key tradition prevails: Americans will travel over Labor Day weekend, and the vast majority will travel by automobile. Even as 2020 marks the first decline in overall summer travel since 2009, automobile trip volume is down just three percent from 2019 – compared to a nearly 75 percent decrease in air travel. That means that motorists should expect heightened traffic throughout the Labor Day holiday, on top of new restrictions and precautions necessitated by the current health challenge.

Labor Day Gas Prices

The lowest Labor Day gas prices in four years will make road trips an affordable option for many travelers. Nationwide, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded sits at $2.23, down from $2.57 at this time last year. In Colorado, motorists will pay an average of $2.37 per gallon, down from $2.55 last Labor Day. Drivers will pay the most in Vail, at $2.81 per gallon, and the least in Durango, at $2.12. 

Pump prices will continue to drop in the weeks ahead, as demand falls and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico region come back online in the wake of Hurricane Laura. 

COVID-19 Travel Resources

AAA is here to help keep Coloradans safe during the summer travel season's last big hurrah. 

  • AAA's COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map provides updated COVID-related travel restrictions, checkpoints, closures, and case counts. 
  • AAA's TripTiks can locate and route you to open gas stations, hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, auto repair facilities, attractions, and more. 
  • AAA's Best of Housekeeping highlights AAA Diamond-designated hotels that have been recognized for implementing the most stringent cleaning standards. 
  • AAA's Mobile App is free to download for on-the-go access to all of the above resources, including dynamic mapping of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

Road Trip Tips

  • Prep your vehicle. Vehicles that have been subjected to lighter-than-usual use or that have sat unused may need additional inspection, especially when it comes to battery health, tire tread and pressure, and oil. A good mechanic can get your vehicle road-trip ready. Find one at AAA.com/Repair
  • Plan stops. Many destinations and businesses have adjusted their hours of operation, so don't count on simply being able to stop whenever you need to. Chart out your route, and stops, in advance. 
  • Pack cleaning supplies and face coverings. Many regions require face coverings, and motorists will want to sanitize their hands every time they use a gas pump. Find a pre-prepared PPE road kit here
  • Pack food and water. To protect remote American communities and each other, pack food and water to reduce the number of trips you'd need to make to restaurants or stores along the way. 
  • Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider. 

Staying in a Hotel

  • Call ahead. Ask about any restrictions or changes to amenities and the check-in process, as well as hotel cleaning protocols. Many hotels have limited their occupancies to promote social distancing, and temporarily done away with breakfasts, pools, exercise rooms, and other services in common spaces.
  • Understand cancellation policies. Hotel cancellation policies can vary based on when you booked, what site you used, and whether the booking was for a special rate.
  • Bring cleaning supplies. While many hoteliers are implementing enhanced cleaning protocols, personally sanitizing high-touch areas may provide additional peace-of-mind.  

Stop the Spread of Unsafe Driving

"Preparation is the name of the game when it comes to traveling during this pandemic," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "But it's much more than just protecting yourself from the virus. With Labor Day set to spike traffic on our roadways, travelers need to make safe decisions while behind the wheel. Buckle up, slow down, and avoid distracted and impaired driving and you can dramatically reduce the odds of a fatal crash." 

Per national figures from NHTSA and AAA: 

  • Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for just under one-third of all traffic fatalities. In Colorado, fatal crashes due to driver impairment between January and July rose from 28 percent of all fatalities in 2019 to 30 percent in 2020, despite fewer total drivers as a result of the pandemic. Arrange for a safe ride home before your first drink. 
  • Speeding typically accounts for one-third of all traffic fatalities. Always abide by the speed limit, leave early so that you're not in a hurry, and reduce your speed for bad weather or other hazardous road conditions.
  • Distraction is responsible for nine percent of fatal crashes. Drivers are eight times more likely to crash when texting and four times more likely to crash when talking on a cellphone. Put your phone down, program your GPS before driving, and secure loose items in the car.
  • Seatbelts save lives. Nearly half (47%) of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 were not wearing their seatbelts. Ensure the driver and all passengers buckle up, including children. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all children. The safest place for children under 12 is in the backseat. We've got recommendations for the best booster seats for kids of all ages.

About AAA – The Auto Club Group

AAA Colorado is a proud part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second-largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more.

AAA Colorado

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