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AAA says Leave early, stay late to avoid traffic

September 02, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

A spokeswoman for the AAA has some simple advice for the estimated half-million motorists trying to get away for the Labor Day weekend: "Leave early and stay late."

Amanda Knittle, a spokeswoman with AAA Mid-Atlantic, said AAA estimates that 475,000 Maryland motorists will drive 50 miles or more to vacation destinations, while an additional 85,000 vacationers will drive to area airports for flights.

Knittle said the Labor Day traffic volume does not measure up to travel around the Thanksgiving and Independence Day holidays, but is still among the top travel weekends of the year.

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Knittle said linking highways, such as Interstate 70, likely will bear the brunt of the traffic congestion.

"Certainly you can take I-70 to a number of locations whether you're heading to Pennsylvania or the mountains or amusement parks," she said. She said beaches along the coast of the Atlantic would be particularly popular.

Knittle said good advice for motorists is to leave early and give themselves plenty of time to get to their destinations.

She said some other common ways to avoid heavy traffic, such as driving late at night, can be more hazardous than helpful.

Knittle said alcohol use and drowsy drivers can make roads dangerous at night, especially on busy travel weekends.

"It's really not a such a good idea because that's a time when a lot of accidents occur," she said.

Maryland State Police will be on the roads over the holiday weekend targeting drunken, aggressive and speeding drivers and also will focus on motorcycle safety, according to a news release issued from state police headquarters in Pikesville, Md. The release said the efforts were made possible by federal grants.

Maryland State Police Lt. Greg Johnston, of the Hagerstown barracks, said local officers will be involved in additional patrols targeting such drivers, especially on the days expected to be heaviest in traffic volume, Friday and Monday

Patrol officers "will be out there at all times of the day," Johnston said.

More information on holiday driving, including car maintenance tips, can be found at AAA's Web site at www.aaamidatlantic.com.

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