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Look for crowded roads and low gas prices this weekend

Labor Day weekend is often the last extended break people get before leaves start changing color and the heat gives way to cold.

According to AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher, the roads will be crowded. She is advising people to take precautions while going on that last trip of the summer.

While the roads may be crowded, motorists will pay the lowest gas prices since Labor Day 2010. Gas prices are nearly 50 cents less a gallon than at the start of the summer driving season.

Labor Day weekend is among the top five busiest travel weekends of the year, Mosher said.

"We're expecting about 35 million travelers nationwide," she said. "That's an increase from last year and the highest number of travelers since the recession in 2008."

Mosher suggests travelers leave at off-peak hours and avoid rush hours in cities as much as possible. Motorists should also be wary of law enforcement conducting extended checks on seat belts, talking on phones and texting.

"Labor Day is really a holiday of backyard barbecues with friends," Mosher said. "So police will also be checking for drunk drivers. You have the responsibility to take the keys away if someone is thinking of driving drunk."

From Friday through Tuesday, Illinois State Police will watch for what it calls the "Fatal 4" traffic violations: speeding, driving under the influence, distracted driving and not wearing seat belts.

"Troopers statewide will be enforcing the Fatal 4 traffic laws," state police Director Hiram Grau said in a news release. "Those motorists who choose to violate the traffic laws could encounter tragic consequences or even face jail time."

Police will also be on heightened alert for suspicious vehicles and criminal activity. They will also monitor intelligence from the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center.

Gas prices

Motorist travelers will spend significantly less on gas than if they took the same trip at the beginning of the summer.

According to data from, the average price of gasoline in Illinois has dropped from about $3.95 a gallon on June 17 to nearly $3.50 per gallon Thursday.

Mosher said gas prices don't tend to have an influence on travel decisions, but it affects the way people travel.

"They have been the lowest for Labor Day since 2010," she said. "The residual effect is people go to more places, eat more and spend more money."

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