NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Even though school has already kicked off in the Volunteer State, thousands of Tennesseans are still planning to hit the road and enjoy some late summer fun over Labor Day weekend.

Based on AAA booking data for flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises, officials said domestic bookings are up 4% and international bookings are up 44% compared to last year’s holiday weekend.

“Labor Day weekend will be the big sendoff to what has been an extremely busy summer travel season,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group.

If you’re taking a road trip this weekend, AAA said you should see gas prices similar to last year. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Tennessee was reportedly $3.37 on Labor Day 2022, but as of this writing, the state’s average is about $3.45 per gallon.

As for what time you should head out, INRIX — a global provider of transportation data and insights — predicted Thursday, Aug. 31 between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to be the busiest time on the roads ahead of the long weekend. However, Friday, Sept. 1 is also forecasted to have higher than normal traffic volumes between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“The best times to travel by car over Labor Day weekend are early in the morning or in the evening,” said Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX. “If you must travel during heavy traffic, navigation apps and local departments of transportation can help steer drivers around long delays.”

Wednesday, Aug. 30Between noon and 8 p.m.Before 7 a.m.
Thursday, Aug. 31Between noon and 8 p.m.Before 7 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 1Between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.Before 11 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 2Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.After 6 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 3Minimal traffic impact expectedMinimal traffic impact expected
Monday, Sept. 4Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.After 7 p.m.

During Labor Day weekend, AAA said it expects to rescue more than 300,000 stranded motorists, with the most common reasons being flat tires, dead batteries, and lockouts. However, you can avoid such situations by having your car inspected before leaving for your destination and bringing an extra set of keys.

“The best way to avoid spending your holiday on the roadside is by getting a full vehicle inspection before your trip,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This will help ensure everything from your battery to brakes is in proper working order.”

If you do run into car trouble, AAA said there are some important steps to take: 

  • Pull as far over as far as possible on the shoulder to create more distance between your vehicle and passing traffic.
  • Turn on your hazard lights so other drivers are aware of your presence.
  • If you are able to make it to the next exit or stopping point safely, do so.
  • Ask AAA for assistance by calling or texting HELP to 800-222-4357, making an online roadside request, or using the AAA Mobile app.
  • Stay with your vehicle as long as it’s safe to do so.
  • If you need to get out of your vehicle, make sure to watch the oncoming traffic for a good time to exit, remain alert and close to your vehicle, and avoid turning your back to traffic whenever possible.

Keep in mind, Tennessee state law requires drivers to slow down and move over if you see a disabled vehicle or an emergency, service, or maintenance vehicle on the side of the road.

“AAA’s roadside technicians will put their lives on the line to rescue hundreds of thousands of drivers nationwide during Labor Day weekend,” Cooper added. “We urge drivers to stay focused on the road and if you see flashing lights, move over so everyone can make it home safely.”

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In order to protect as many motorists as possible over the holiday weekend, AAA shared the following tips for preventing roadside collisions:

  • Stay alert, avoid distractions, and focus on driving.
  • Constantly scan the road ahead so you can identify and avoid potential hazards.
  • Watch for people on the roadside who may be in or near a disabled vehicle. After all, just because you don’t see them immediately doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
  • When approaching a vehicle on the roadside with flashing lights, move over a lane. If that’s not possible, just slow down to safely pass them.
  • Be a good passenger by spotting roadway issues and reminding the driver to slow down and move over.