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“Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer”: Officials remind travelers to drive safely this Memorial Day Weekend

The Maine Turnpike Authority says traffic will likely increase 76% compared to last year.
The Maine Turnpike Authority says the traffic will likely increase 76% compared to last year.
The Maine Turnpike Authority says the traffic will likely increase 76% compared to last year.(WABI)
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, which means heavy travel on Maine roads.

The pandemic saw travel numbers drastically dip a year ago.

Officials are expecting a big increase this weekend.

Travel experts are predicting a huge rebound from a year ago when strict quarantine rules kept many would-be travelers at home.

The Maine Turnpike Authority says traffic will likely increase 76% compared to last year.

That’s when only 564,000 transactions occurred over the four-day weekend.

Officials say about 984,000 transactions are predicted this weekend, which is only 3% lower than the same period in 2019.

Paul Merrill from Maine DOT is strongly encouraging travelers to obey the rules of the road this weekend.

“Our main message to folks whether they’re living in Maine or coming from away to travel and enjoy our state, obey posted speed limits, be attentive, and really take precaution when you’re driving past a work zone because our crews are out there working often times just feet from moving vehicles. We want this to be a good summer, we want everyone to be safe, we want this to be a summer like we have not seen before in a good way. We want all the memories to be good ones. People need to remember to leave sooner, drive slower, live longer,” Maine Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Paul Merrill said.

The heaviest traffic northbound is expected to occur tomorrow between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Officials say construction work will pause for the weekend, but drivers still need to travel through construction zones at the posted speed limit.

Increased travel numbers on a weekend where a lot of adult beverages are typically consumed also causes great concern about impaired driving for law enforcement.

State officials say we lose one to two people every Memorial Day weekend to fatal crashes.

Law enforcement officials are strongly encouraging travelers to drive sober this weekend, as they will be strictly enforcing the rules of the road, especially impaired driving.

”If you’re going to indulge, have alcoholic beverages, we encourage you to plan ahead. Plan for a sober driver, plan to call a cab, take an Uber. Do not try to drive if you’ve been drinking. We will be out there checking. If you get pulled over and you’re impaired, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to jail,” said Sgt. Wade Betters, Bangor Police Department.

A strong message from Bangor Police spokesperson Sgt. Wade Betters about local travel.

Back in April, State Police announced they would be stepping up enforcement of traffic laws to counteract erratic and impaired driving, speeding, and handheld device use behind the wheel.

State Police will be out in full force this weekend on Maine’s highways as well.

So remember to be safe, drive slow, and respect the rules of the road.

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