High holiday traffic expected

Police are urging drivers to be safe on days traditionally high in vehicle deaths.
Friday, September 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:03 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The price of gasoline in Columbia is about 15 cents per gallon higher than last year, but that won’t stop Jenny Talbert from going on a camping trip with her family this Labor Day weekend. The MU sophomore will be joining thousands of Missouri motorists hitting the road to take advantage of the last three-day weekend of the summer.

“We always go camping on Labor Day,” she said. “It’s a family tradition because my parents have off work.”

Labor Day Numbers

  • 147.9 million

    Number of Americans age 16 or older in the nation’s work force

  • 7.3 million

    Number of workers who hold down more than one job

  • 10.3 million

    Number of self-employed workers

  • 24.4 minutes

    Average time it takes to commute to work

  • Source:

AAA Missouri predicts about 29 million people nationwide will be driving more than 50 miles from their homes this weekend, a 2 percent increase from last year.

Labor Day weekend is the third deadliest holiday in the state for motorists. The highway patrol reported 14 automobile-related deaths in Missouri last year. Only Thanksgiving and Independence Day were more dangerous, with 21 and 20 fatalities respectively. The National Safety Council is predicting that between 420 and 560 people will die in traffic accidents nationwide this weekend.

“Right now, we’re expecting a lot of people to be traveling to get out for the last weekend before the fall,” said Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The start of football season will also increase the number of cars on the road, particularly on interstates. Thousands of people are expected to drive to Columbia on Saturday for the MU football team’s season opener against Arkansas State.

Reinsch said that people should prepare for their drive by getting plenty of rest and planning ahead. Motorists should leave themselves plenty of time and have an idea of what they will do in case they find themselves in heavy traffic.

“The number one reason for accidents is attention,” Reinsch said. “People have to pay attention to what they’re doing.”

    City Closings

    • City offices will be closed on Monday. City buses will not operate, and parking meter regulations will not be enforced.
    • Columbia Public Schools will not be in session.
    • The sanitary landfill will be closed, and residential refuse and blue-bag collection will not take place, which means pick-up will be delayed one day throughout the week. Questions concerning holiday refuse collection may be directed to the Columbia Solid Waste Division at 874-6291.
    • Although administrative offices for both the police and fire departments will be closed, all emergency services will be available.
    • The regular City Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council chambers, 701 E. Broadway.

Both the patrol and the Columbia Police Department are making efforts to reduce accidents and target problem drivers. Reinsch said all of the patrol’s officers will be on duty at some point this weekend, and the police department will be increasing the number of its officers on the roads.

“We have an ongoing DWI enforcement program through a grant from the National Highway Safety Commission in conjunction with the Missouri Safety Center,” said Sgt. Tim Moriarity of the department. “We’re going to have extra officers working over the Labor Day holiday, looking for impaired drivers.”

Moriarity said these officers will target locations that have been prone to alcohol-related accidents and areas with high numbers of drivers.

Talbert said she is not concerned about the traffic she will face on the way to her camp site, but she still plans on taking precautions.

“I’m just going to be careful, wear my seat belt and not talk on the phone,” she said.

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