LAYTON -- The nation's roadways may be less congested this Labor Day weekend as the pressures of the down economy and the unwilling-to-yield unemployment rate causes some motorists to ease off the gas.
The overall sense of economic uneasiness and the ongoing lagging employment rate of recent months has many Mountain West residents forgoing travel plans for the upcoming holiday weekend, say AAA officials.
AAA's latest forecast predicts more than $2.4 million Mountain West travelers will go 50 miles or more from their homes this weekend.
This represents an overall decrease of 2.6 percent compared with 2010, said Cynthia L. Harris, AAA Utah spokeswoman.
"Mountain West residents are reacting to the most recent economic downturns, and that is having a significant effect on discretionary spending," Harris said in a news release.
"Nonetheless, with a pent-up desire to get away for the last holiday of the season, we could see an increase in last-minute weekend travel."
Labor Day holiday trips by automobile are expected to be the preferred mode of transportation, with more than 2 million Mountain West travelers planning to take to the nation's roads this weekend, Harris said.
However, gas prices are 62 cents higher per gallon this year compared with the same time last year, which could limit travel.
The average gas price in Utah is $3.54 per gallon, compared with $2.92 per gallon at this time last year, Harris said.
The highest recorded price for gas in Utah was $4.18 per gallon in July 2008. That price was recorded in Provo, she said.
The national average price for a gallon of gas is $3.61 per gallon, compared with $2.68 per gallon at this time last year, Harris said.
Nationally, AAA is projecting that just more than 31.5 million people will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, representing a 2.4 percent decrease compared with 2010, Harris said.
Utah Department of Transportation officials say no new work activities will begin over Labor Day weekend, but they do remind drivers that existing narrowed lanes and restrictions remain in Utah County because of work on the freeway there.