Labor Day weekend holiday travel: Staying safe on the road

Labor Day weekend typically marks the end of summer and millions of Americans are planning road trips. News4JAX's Amanda DeVoe takes a look at efforts to keep people safe during one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end to summer with millions planning on one final road trip. According to AAA, Thursday and Friday afternoons are expected to be the worst times to hit the road.

A recent survey from the agency estimated 32% of Americans plan to go somewhere over the next few days. Of those surveyed, 82% are expected to hit the road.

AAA leaders said Thursday and Friday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. are expected to be the busiest times on the road. The agency said you can beat the traffic by going any time before noon on either day. You can also expect heavy traffic Tuesday when people head back home.

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Labor Day weekend is also the deadliest summer holiday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported more than 3,900 deadly crashes between 2011 and 2020. That is more than Memorial Day or the 4th of July.

Here in Florida, NHTSA said the state reported 413 deadly crashes during that same timeframe, and 2020 saw 58 deadly crashes including one involving a 21-car pileup in Nassau County. News4JAX reported that accident killed 18-year-old Connor Dzion. Investigators said a semi-truck failed to stop along I-95, which set off a chain reaction. Traffic was backed up for hours as crews tried to clear the road.

State and local law enforcement agencies in Florida and Georgia are working together to keep the roads safe this Labor Day weekend. The agencies met at the Georgia Welcome Center on I-95 Wednesday for the annual “Hands across the border” event. Leaders plan to step up patrols and look for impaired drivers.

AAA is also cleaning up the streets with its “Tow to Go” program. The agency will offer free rides from 6 p.m. Friday evening to 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. You can call 855-TOW-2-GO. AAA asks you use this as a backup plan and not a free ride-share service. Since the program’s inception in 1998, AAA has helped more than 25,000 impaired drivers.