By Michael Hill
AAA estimated some one million New Jerseyans got behind the wheel this extended Labor Day weekend — taking advantage of the lowest Labor Day gasoline prices since 2004.
And to keep more of that gas in the tank, some drivers headed back home today before the big rush and traffic snarls.
“Well, I left earlier than I would have because I was worried about it ” said one driver.
“There’s no traffic really, or anything. It wasn’t a bad ride” said another.
“Beautiful, traffic is following. Very little traffic today. Perfect,” said a third.
By late afternoon traffic from the shore seemed to grow heavier by the minute. For this holiday weekend, state police added some 200 extra patrols to watch the highways and waterways.
“Well, what we’re hoping for increase patrols, deter anyone form getting behind the wheel after drinking. Increased patrols will have positive effect on drivers’ behaviors on the road,” said NJ State Police Sargent Jeffrey Flynn.
Drivers say they saw very few patrols.
“Maybe two,” said a driver.
“Actually I would have to say not too many, but also not seeing a lot of people flying out and speeding too much. But where ever I have seen troopers, seen folks stopped off a little bit in the evening time. But it’s actually not been too bad. People have been pretty good,” said another.
State police say they will have numbers after the holiday, but they say it’s a deadly weekend as a result of one person drinking and driving.
The crash happened early Sunday morning in Old Bridge and police charged a Lincoln MKS driver death and assault by auto. Prosecutors say the 36-year-old driver on Route 516 east crossed into oncoming traffic at Mannino Park Drive and crashed in to another car, killing a back seat passenger in the Lincoln and hospitalizing both drivers.
State police say that’s why they announced they have extra patrols out.
“We announce these things much like DWI checkpoints and the purpose of that is that we want people to stop and think,” said Flynn.
State police say even though crash fatalities are down in New Jersey this year compared to 2014, they could not let their guard down because some drivers ignore the warnings.