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Safety stressed for holiday weekend

By Ed Brock

High gas prices almost made Jessica Manning's parents cancel their trip to Florida.

"But I wanted to go," 14-year-old Manning said, so they're going.

They will join approximately 37.2 million Americans who are expected to travel in some fashion over this Memorial Day Weekend, according to AAA Auto Club South. That will be a 2.2 percent increase over last year.

In Georgia alone around 900,000 people are expected to travel via plane or automobile to some destination this weekend with 800,000 of them choosing the latter mode of transportation. They will do so despite the fact that gas prices in the Atlanta area were averaging $1.97 for a gallon of regular.

"Even though we all complain about the price at the pump, it really won't keep any of us from traveling and enjoying the beautiful weather and all that the southeast has to offer," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president at AAA Auto Club South.

Gas prices and an unexpected trip to Connecticut last week for a funeral will keep Zulaika Gould of Morrow and her family home this weekend.

"The prices are high all right," Gould said. "We spent about $1,200 on a three to four day trip."

Gould's husband Roger Gould said about $200 of that cost was for gas for the minivan the family rented for the trip. The Gould's 11-year-old daughter Tamar Gould said she had a cheaper alternative.

"We're going swimming," Gould said.

Law enforcement agencies will have a high presence on the roadways this weekend as part of the "100 Days of Summer HEAT" and "Click It or Ticket" traffic enforcement programs.

"Memorial Day weekend is always a heavily traveled holiday period but sadly also one of the deadliest on our roadways," said Col. Bill Hitchens, commander of the Georgia State Patrol.

The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety is predicting that between 6 p.m. today and midnight Monday there will be 2,550 accidents on Georgia's highways with 650 of them resulting in injuries and 17 fatalities.

Traffic is always heaviest on the first and last days of the weekend.

Air travel

Along with high gas prices and increased law enforcement presence for the drivers, the 1.3 million travelers expected to pass through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with Friday projected as the busiest travel day. On that day some 275,000 people will pass through the airport.

Airport officials had some tips to ease passengers through the check-in process.

Curbside drop off is available at the North and South Terminals, but they should be used quickly. Parked and unattended vehicles will be ticketed and towed.

Arrive at least 90 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave.

Carry photo identification and remember that the name on the ticket must match the name on the ID.

Along with knives, scissors and other sharp objects, lighters and fireworks are also prohibited beyond the security checkpoint or in checked baggage.

Passengers who are required to have syringes on their person during the trip due to medical conditions must have the medicine with them in a container with a pharmaceutical or professionally printed label.

For more tips and flight information, go to www.atlanta-airport.com.

Weather

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City is forecasting a partly cloudy Memorial Day with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The month of June is expected to have about 5.2 inches of rain, which is normal for the season, said Frank Taylor, the data acquisition manager at the weather service.

The outlook against a drought the dry months looks good because all of the rain that came in September, he said.