Holiday travel from Florida to Europe is on the upswing in 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Travel volume over the Memorial Day weekend is projected to be at the highest level for the holiday period since 2005, according to projections released by AAA.

The automobile club predicted that 39.3 million Americans will be traveling during the holiday weekend, a million more than last year.

Beth Mosher, AAA spokeswoman, said one contributing factor may be relatively low gas prices. Although prices have increased slightly over the past couple of years, they are still significantly lower than about a decade ago. The current national average is $2.36 per gallon, eight cents more than a year ago. That’s compared with $3.60 in 2012.

“That just adds to the family budget,” Mosher said. “They’re out there spending more money on travel.”

AAA determines its projections with help from London’s IHS Market, which conducts economic forecasting and research to analyze holiday trends. The two companies partnered in 2009.

After the holiday is over, Mosher said the company determines the accuracy of its projections, which she said are often close.

She said AAA conducts this research to give people a sense of how many others will be traveling and to give advice, specifically on how to avoid needing to be rescued by AAA services.

“I can’t advise them enough to get their car looked at first,” she said.

Common car troubles on the road include battery failure, lack of tire inflation and lockouts, she said. Two of those are avoidable with a quick checkup.

However, it’s not just domestic travel that occurs on Memorial Day weekend. According to AAA travel bookings, the top three destinations are Orlando, Florida; Rome; and London.

While many Fort Wayne residents said they’ll be staying home, others will be making road trips.

Jerry Liby will drive to Louisville, Kentucky, for an annual Memorial Day weekend flea market with his dog, Dexter.

Kelly Shields will visit Michigan to see some of his family that lives there.

Mark Kittaka will drive his daughter to Chicago, where she secured an internship.

“We’ll be enjoying the long weekend in Chicago,” he said.

For those staying in the country, law enforcement agencies across the state, and others, are in the middle of their Click It or Ticket campaign, which means seat belt enforcement by police will increase.

“A lot of it has to do with traveling for Memorial Day, and it’s the kickoff of the summer season,” said Craig Allebach, Kosciusko County partnership administrator.

The county partnership consists of 10 law enforcement agencies that are participating in the campaign. Allebach said the partnership has similar campaigns, what they call blitzes, four times a year targeting different traffic infractions. Their Click It or Ticket blitz began May 12 and will end June 4.

He said that during the campaign, through surveys, they find increased levels of seat belt use. They enforce a zero-tolerance policy that Allebach said really isn’t that different from how they operate on a normal basis.

“Our goal isn’t necessarily to ticket people,” he said, “but to get them to protect themselves.”