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Editorial: Have a safe trip, holiday

Lower gas prices are expected to contribute to an increase in the number of holiday travelers this long weekend, and as is always the case when preparing for a trip, taking time to ensure that your vehicle is in good operating condition should be a high priority for holiday travelers.

AAA released its holiday travel forecast last week. It said that it expects 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the long weekend. Of those, more than 30 million are expected to drive.

The beach is always a popular destination point for Maryland travelers. Backups along the major routes to the beach are routine, so it is good if you can plan your trip so that you aren't traveling at peak times.

Travelers this year will also find a little relief at the pump. According to AAA, the $3.68 per gallon average price for gas is 35 cents cheaper than the $4.03 average price people were paying this time last year.

Wherever your destination, you should take care to ensure that your vehicle is in good condition, with tires adequately inflated and all the fluids checked. Also, with more traffic on the roadways the chances increase for accidents. When traveling, especially on heavy traffic periods, it is always good to leave a little early, or take your time in getting to your destination.

If you're traveling with children, make sure that you bring along some snacks and some things to keep them occupied for the long drive. And it is always a good idea to take along an emergency kit in case you encounter trouble.

According to the National Safety Council, about 400 people died in auto accidents in 2010 over the Memorial Day weekend. The six-year average for fatalities, according to the NSC, is 458.

We're all anxious to get out and enjoy the beginning of summer, as well as some much-needed time off, but fun can quickly turn to tragedy on our busy roads during holiday weekends. If you are heading out, take time to adequately prepare, and then take your time and ensure that you arrive safely at your destination.

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