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Hit the road Jack
This to be busiest travel Memorial Day Weekend since 2005
new deh 2016 memorial day travel pic web
With fuel prices lower than in recent years, more motorists are expect to travel this Memorial Day weekend and through out the summer. - photo by Tribune file photo

KHP Participates in annual Memorial Day Step Campaign 

The peak of summer travel across our nation’s highways is about to begin. The Kansas Highway Patrol will be working additional hours from May 23 until June 5. This additional coverage comes thanks to funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation through the STEP (Special Traffic Enforcement Program) campaign, to help motorists reach their destinations safely. 

“The Patrol is dedicated to helping save lives on Kansas highways. We will enforce the state’s seat belt and child safety seat laws, as a way to help prevent fatalities on our roads. One death is one too many,” said Colonel Mark Bruce, KHP superintendent. 

The STEP program allows officers to work overtime hours, providing extra manpower on the roads and focusing on areas such as occupant protection, enforcing impaired driving laws, enforcing the state’s texting laws, and other traffic safety issues. This year’s focus of the Memorial Day STEP campaign is, “Click It. Or Ticket,” encouraging seat belt/child safety seat use for occupants of all ages. 

Over the 2015 Memorial Day holiday reporting period for the Patrol (KHP stats only), troopers worked three fatal crashes on Kansas’ roads, which killed four people. None of the crashes were alcohol-related. Patrol personnel arrested 18 people for impaired driving. Personnel also assisted 922 motorists who needed help on Kansas roads. 

“Memorial Day is a celebration of the great men and women who have lost their lives serving this great country, and also marks the beginning of summer vacation season nationwide. The KHP and all of our law enforcement partners remind all Kansans to buckle up, every trip, every time,” said Lieutenant Adam Winters, Patrol public information officer. “We would also remind everyone to make plans in advance for a sober driver. Law enforcement will also be out looking for those drivers who made the wrong decision to drink and drive.”

The Patrol wishes all of those traveling during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and throughout the summer, safe travels. If you are in need of assistance on a Kansas highway, you can call KHP for assistance at *47 (*HP) or *582 (*KTA) for the Kansas Turnpike. 

 TOPEKA – Fueled by lower gas prices, the West North Central Region, of which Kansas is a part, will see 2.8 million or 13.5 percent of its population, hitting the road for their Memorial Day Getaway, the AAA reported. 

This is the largest percentage for any region in the U.S., as well as the highest for all travel. However, airfares are significantly cheaper compared to last year (-26 percent from 2015), yet the percentage of population in the region flying is one of the lowest in the country. 

The American Automobile Association projects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That is the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005. 

Spurred by the lowest gas prices in more than a decade, about 700,000 more people will travel compared to last year. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 26 to Monday, May 30.

“Americans are eagerly awaiting the start of summer and are ready to travel in numbers not seen in more than a decade,” said Jim Hanni, AAA spokesperson. “The great American road trip is officially back thanks to low gas prices, and millions of people from coast to coast are ready to kick off summer with a Memorial Day getaway.”  

AAA estimates that Americans have saved $18 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and prices are at the lowest levels in 11 years. The strong labor market and rising personal income are also motivating people to travel for Memorial Day this year. 2015 currently holds the record for the busiest driving year ever after beating out 2007. In 2015, Americans drove a total of 3.1 trillion miles, which is a 3.5 percent increase over 2014, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The latest data shows driving is up 3.7 percent compared to a year ago.

Low gas prices driving increase 

Nearly 34 million (89 percent) holiday travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year as a result of lower gas prices. Air travel is expected to increase 1.6 percent over last year, with 2.6 million Americans taking to the skies this Memorial Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will fall 2.3 percent, to 1.6 million travelers.

According to, the average retail gasoline prices in Kansas have risen 7.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.10 per gallon this past weekend. This compares with the national average that has increased 6.1 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.28. 

As of Wednesday, prices in Great Bend ranged from $2.05 to $2.15. Prices around the area also fell into that range.

Including the change in gas prices in Kansas during the past week, prices yesterday were still 41.3 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 13.0 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 15.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 46.1 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on May 23 in Kansas have ranged widely over the last five years:

$2.51 in 2015, $3.42 in 2014, $3.92 in 2013, $3.43 in 2012 and $3.75 in 2011.

According to a recent AAA survey, 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices. 

Airfares, hotel and car rental rates 

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 26 percent cheaper this Memorial Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $165. Hotel costs are in line with last Memorial Day. Daily car rental rates will average $62, three percent less than last year.

There is still need for motorists to be prepared. AAA will likely rescue more than 1,000 motorists in Kansas during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires. 

AAA reminds motorists to get in the habit of locking doors from the outside or keeping a spare key in their wallet or purse. AAA responds to a larger percentage of members that have locked their keys in the car over the holiday than the rest of the summer. 

AAA also recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a road trip. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop.