Editorial: Generate fun, not statistics, on Labor Day

Aug. 29, 2013 @ 06:07 PM

Fifteen weeks ago, the unofficial start to summer arrived.

We’re still not sure where the 100-degree days went, or even the multitude of 90-degree days. Global warming? Not in these parts. It’s been a mild summer by North Carolina standards.

And we’re not complaining.

But the Labor Day weekend has begun. For many, it was Thursday. Still more will get away today.

We’re pleading today for everyone to be careful. Even if staying within the Tri-County, and hopping onto U.S. 1 or Interstate 85 for a short part of an errand, remember others might be in longer commutes and fueled with who knows what.

According to the national office of the Automobile Association of America:

• Labor Day holiday travelers are expected to total 34.1 million, an increase of 4.2 percent from the 32.7 million who traveled last year.

• Eighty-five percent of travelers (29.2 million) will travel by automobile, an increase of 4.3 percent from 28 million last year.

• Holiday air travel is expected to increase nearly 3 percent to 2.61 million.

• The largest share of travelers (46 percent) will depart today. Monday is the most popular date of return for holiday trips, with 43 percent expected to be heading home.

• The average traveler is expected to travel a round-trip distance of 594 miles and spend $804.

We hope they’re stopping in friendly Henderson.

Travel in North Carolina, according to AAA Carolinas, is expected to be near 1 million and up about 5 percent from a year ago.

While the price of gasoline jumped in the Tri-County in the last week, it remains lower than 2012. The national average last year was $3.83. It was $3.54 earlier this week, with a number of Henderson locations climbing to the $3.50s.

We agree with those forecasters citing some optimism in the economy as reason for increased activity. The recipe is there for plenty of travelers all the way through Monday.

But be careful at home as well. The weekend is ripe for backyard grilling. Take the necessary steps to be safe, whether lighting a grill, playing outdoors or taking a cool dip in the pool, lake or ocean.

Be part of the fun, not the statistics. Happy Labor Day!