Fewer people are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend, but those who do take to the highways will likely see more police officers than usual.
Authorities have stepped-up patrols for the weekend that marks the end of the 100 Days of Summer -- an initiative designed to reduce traffic deaths between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and one of the most dangerous times for travel.
"Our primary focus is fatality reduction," said Lance Cpl. Jeff Gaskin of the S.C. Highway Patrol. "One fatality is too many."
In order to reach that goal, more officers will be on the roads looking for people who are drinking and driving, speeding or not wearing their seat belts. Troopers also are teaming up with local police agencies at checkpoints in areas with a history of car crashes.
Last year, there were no deadly wrecks in York, Chester or Lancaster counties during Labor Day weekend, according to the Highway Patrol. Statewide, nine people died in crashes during that time, and four of those wrecks involved drinking and driving.
Even though gas prices are lower than last month's record highs, AAA Carolinas said it expects fewer drivers will be on the road than last year, a decrease also noticed during summer's two earlier holidays, Memorial Day and July 4.
AAA anticipates about 352,000 South Carolina drivers will travel more than 100 miles this weekend. That figure is down .08 percent from the 2007 number of Labor Day road travelers.
"Travelers earlier this summer saw gas prices hit new record highs almost daily, and it forced many of them to change their vacation plans," David Parsons, CEO of AAA Carolinas, said in a release this week.
"The good news today is the cost of gasoline has gone down for 39 consecutive days, a welcome trend for motorists and all those worried about escalating prices," Parsons said.
In South Carolina, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.445, down 42 cents since July 4, but still 93 cents more than last Labor Day. Nationally, the average price is $3.667 per gallon.
About 70,300 South Carolinians are expected to travel by air, AAA says, a 3.7 percent decrease from last year.
"Air travelers will find air fares roughly 15 (percent) higher, despite the drop in the cost of oil," Parsons said in the release. "Airlines were hit hard by high fuel prices throughout the summer and they are expected to continue air fare hikes throughout the year."
Despite high fuel costs, 307,900 South Carolinians plan to travel more than 250 miles during the Labor Day weekend, and 211,200 South Carolinians plan to travel at least 500 miles.