Expect more traffic, police presence Memorial Day weekend

AAA: Estimated 33 million people will be traveling this weekend

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More Americans are expected to travel this weekend than any time in the last 10 years. Expect more traffic and a bigger police presence this weekend.

The weekend traffic has already started flowing. AAA said about 33 million people will be traveling this weekend. The biggest reasons more people are traveling are because of cheaper gas and an improving economy, according to AAA.

But that's not what reporter Mike Vasilinda found at one rest area.

"Going to my granddaughter's graduation in Sarasota," said Jo Robinson, of Alabama.

"I was off my work and we planned this little get away," said Lynn Houston, of Mobile, Alabama.

"My sister is graduating high school," said Ladaisha Turner, of Oklahoma. "My dad is coming back from England, so haven't seen the family in two years."

"The boys are out of school and we decided to go before the Florida schools got out," said Jane Street, of Panama City.

A Jacksonville couple timed their vacation to get home before the weekend started.

"Are you trying to get home before Memorial Day to beat the traffic?" Vasilinda asked Ben Franzuela, of Jacksonville.

"Yes," Franzuela said. "We want to be with family."

The heaviest travel in 10 years comes as data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Florida is one of just eight states where accidents are a definitive cause of death.

"Everything fun from Orlando with Disney World, going down to the Keys. Everybody's going to be on the road traveling, so that just makes this a very traveled state," said Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Capt. Nancy Rasmussen.

Speeding, reckless driving and DUI will be on the patrol's radar. AAA Motor Clubs said drivers who have had too much to drink should call for a ride.

"Completely anonymous," said W.D. Williams, of AAA South. "We'll come get both you and your car, and get both of you home safely."

Last Memorial Day weekend, Florida saw more than 3,000 crashes that injured 1,300 people and killed 28.

FHP made 91 DUI arrests, cited 1,868 people for not wearing their seat belt, and 20,692 people got a ticket for speeding or other offenses last Memorial Day weekend.

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