Holiday travelers will pay higher gas prices to embark on wet roads

Labor Day travelers should expect a wet and pricier drive as they hit the road this weekend thanks to Hurricane Harvey.

The remnants of the hurricane will make their way to the Midwest over the next few days, just as Ohioans head out for the long holiday weekend. AAA reports that approximately 85 percent of all travelers drive to their destinations for Labor Day weekend, meaning the storm will impact most people, either at the gas pump or at cookouts.

“Refinery, pipeline and logistical problems on the Gulf Coast are expected to squeeze fuel supply in the Midwest due to our region receiving some of their refined products,” said Cindy Antrican, AAA spokeswoman.

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Gas prices, which were on the decline in the Dayton area before Harvey hit, have risen on average by around 20 cents since Tuesday to an average of $2.41 as of Thursday, according to the website GasBuddy. Some prices at local gas stations were as high as $2.59 per gallon on Thursday.

Kentucky saw the highest price jump in the country after the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast this past week. At $2.56, Louisville had the highest gas price of major southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky cities, according to AAA.

The average national gas price on Thursday, $2.45, was the highest average cost this year, AAA reported. Gas prices are expected to remain high throughout the weekend.

The Montgomery County Auditor’s office announced on Thursday that officials would be conducting a “skimmer sweep” of gas pumps to make sure they’re safe as Labor Day drivers swipe their cards. The auditor’s office plans to inspect pumps at more than 50 gas stations.

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“In the past three weeks, there have been 10 skimmers reported in Ohio. So, today we are launching a sweep here in Montgomery County,” county auditor Karl Keith said. “We’ve done this before and we take this very seriously.”

The remnants of the hurricane will put a damper on outdoor celebrations this weekend while also making roads a little slicker. Though Labor Day is historically the least traveled holiday, experts still expect thousands to hit the roads, even in bad weather.

“AAA encourages drivers to be cautious on the roads as heavy rain moves into the area,” Antrican said. “Nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes occur each year on wet pavement. And with the potential for flooding, drivers should especially heed any warnings from local officials before departing.”

State troopers will focus on getting intoxicated drivers off the road this weekend, according to a press release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

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During last year’s Labor Day weekend, there were 15 fatal crashes in Ohio that killed 15 people. Four of those fatalities were OVI related and five fatalities resulted from not using safety belts, according to the state patrol. Troopers also made 749 OVI arrests over that long weekend.

“Removing impaired drivers from our roadways is always a primary focus,” Col. Paul Pride, patrol superintendent said in a prepared statement. “We take impaired driving seriously and we are dedicated to protecting and serving the motorists on Ohio’s roadways.”

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