In preparation for the heavy holiday traffic, Cherokee County law enforcement agencies will be out in force hoping to make the holiday a safe one on the roads as lower gas prices and hot temperatures lure motorists to travel.
This weekend will produce temperatures across the metro Atlanta region including Cherokee County in the low to mid-90s, but a tropical system near the Bahamas could bring rain and slightly lower temperatures by Memorial Day, said National Weather Service meteorologist Vaughn Smith.
Smith said there is a scant chance for rain today, in the south and east of the Atlanta area.
He said the rain expected from the disturbance in the Atlantic could bring about a half-inch of rain to the metro Atlanta region, but could dump up to three inches on parts of coastal and southern Georgia and northern Florida.
He said the rain is also expected to knock temperatures down to the 80s by Monday. “The upper 80s is still pretty warm,” he said.
Close to 1 million Georgia residents are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, said AAA South spokeswoman Jessica Brady.
Brady said 975,000 people would travel for the holiday, with about 875,000 traveling by car.
The drop in gas prices bodes well for those driving. Brady said gas is 40 cents per gallon cheaper than last year.
“It is very likely we can see more people getting out there and traveling than we initially projected,” she said.
According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the average cost of regular unleaded was $3.42 per gallon in Atlanta on Friday. That’s down from $3.72 last month and $3.81 last year.
“Motorists are getting the much needed relief at the pump,” she said.
The Georgia State Patrol expects traffic to be heavy throughout the weekend and “is asking motorists to make sure everyone is buckled up as they travel,” said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
Last year, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 312 traffic crashes that resulted in 236 injuries and 13 traffic deaths.
On the local level, law enforcement will be on the look out for impaired drivers.
Canton Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Stacy Bailey said city police officers would perform “concentrated patrols” and enforcement DUI laws.
The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office’s Traffic Enforcement Unit will be “conducting concentrated patrols in many different areas looking for impaired drivers,” said spokesman Lt. Jay Baker.
Woodstock Police spokeswoman Brittany Duncan said the department would participate in the annual statewide Click It or Ticket campaign and increase patrolling throughout the city.