By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Labor Day travel could hit near pre-pandemic levels
DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune Traffic speeds out of the east side of Great Bend on U.S. 56 Tuesday afternoon. Travel over Labor Day weekend is expected to reach pre-COVID levels, despite higher gas prices.

WICHITA – As the Labor Day holiday weekend approaches, travelers are expected to take to the roadways despite high gas prices. AAA expects the Labor Day holiday weekend travel volume to return to near pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, as it did for the Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday weekends earlier this summer.

 AAA anticipates the peak travel time will be Friday afternoon (Sept. 2) when commuters mix with holiday travelers. Traffic is also expected to be heavy late Monday afternoon as road trippers return from the long weekend. To avoid Labor Day weekend traffic, AAA encourages drivers who have the flexibility to travel at off-peak hours.

 “As the summer travel season draws to an end with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, AAA expects travel volume will likely reach pre-pandemic levels, mirroring the trends seen for the Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends earlier this summer,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “AAA reminds all holiday weekend travelers, especially those planning a road trip, that increased traffic means an increase in the chance for crashes. Plan ahead. Travel during off-peak times. Obey the rules of the road. Your safety and the safety of all road users depends on it.”


Labor Day gas prices

Road trips will rule Labor Day weekend. Kansas gas prices have dropped $1.14 per gallon since peaking at $4.67/gallon on June 15. The national gas price average has dropped $1.16/gallon since peaking at $5.01/gallon on June 14. However, gas prices remain about 60 cents per gallon higher than the same time last year. 

Record high summer gas prices haven’t deterred road trippers and AAA does not expect Labor Day weekend to be any different. However, motorists tell AAA they have adjusted driving behavior and vacation spending to accommodate for higher gas prices.

• 67% of Kansas drivers say they have adjusted their daily driving behaviors because of gas prices, with many people consolidating errands/trips and cutting back on driving as much as possible.

• More than 63% of Kansas drivers making summer travel plans say gas prices have factored in to their planning. Of those planning to travel this summer: More than a third (37%) say they are taking fewer trips because of gas prices; 10% say they are taking shorter trips because of gas prices; and 20% say they are adjusting their travel budget for dining or lodging because of gas prices.


Before hitting the road

Even though Labor Day weekend signals the unofficial end of summer vacation season, it’s not too late to make sure your vehicle is road-ready if you haven’t done so already. AAA recommends a full vehicle inspection by a trusted mechanic. 

“It’s important that drivers remember that their vehicle can break down just as easily over Labor Day weekend as it can at any time of year and that they take every precaution to ensure that their cars are road ready,” Steward said.


Ten Car Care Tips from AAA

• Check tire pressure of all tires – don’t forget to check the spare.

• Check tire tread – offers a simple visual check using a penny or a quarter

• Check battery is in good working order (most batteries last 3-5 years); a AAA Approved Repair facility will do this for FREE

• Check air conditioning

• Check windshield wipers to make sure they are in good working order

• Check fluids

• Check lights – headlights, turn signals, brake lights – to ensure they are all working

• Make sure your cell phone is fully charged so you can call for help if needed

• Make sure your AAA membership is up to date

• Stock a Summer Emergency Kit with: jumper cables, tools, first aid supplies, flashlight with fresh batteries, road flare or reflective triangle, extra medications, snacks, water.