Photo: Evan Lockridge

Photo: Evan Lockridge

Traffic during the upcoming Labor Day holiday is forecast to be the heaviest since 2008, according to a forecast by the motorist group AAA.

It projects 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home Thursday through Monday, a 1.3% percent increase over 2013. Nearly 86.5% of those travelers, 29.7 million, will celebrate the holiday with a final road trip.

Part of the reason for the expected hike, said AAA, is that consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. In the third quarter of this year spending is expected to increase 3.8% year-over-year, while disposable personal income is only expected to increase 1.4%.

“Reliance on credit cards, rather than increasing income, is fueling holiday travel spending this year,” the group said, while it also noted economic growth is slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt.

With the Labor Day holiday and more people out on the roadways, traffic crashes along with related injuries and fatalities are expected to jump.

The National Safety Council estimates 395 people will be killed and an additional 42,300 will be injured in car crashes beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday ending at the last of Monday.

The NSC said in 2012 and 2011, it estimated at or just slightly more than 400 people would be killed in Labor Day holiday traffic crashes. The actual number was around 375. In 2007, the year before the Great Recession, 508 people were killed on roadways over the Labor Day weekend.

Increased traffic isn't the only risk over the long weekend. One logistics security services provider has issued an advisory on another matter.

FreighWatch International cautions that holiday weekends historically show an increase in cargo theft risks for transportation companies, shippers, and manufacturers.  

“Organized theft rings are active and understand that holiday weekends mean more shipments left unattended for extended periods of time,” the company said in a bulletin. “Labor Day Weekend of 2013 recorded thefts at a rate of 4.75 per day, which is an 81% increase in cargo theft for the holiday weekend when compared to the annual average."

FreightWatch International recommends logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up-to-date and in line with industry best practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations, both of which are expected to be heavily targeted over the weekend. 

For instance, “to mitigate criminal’s attempts to exploit cargo at rest, ensure that the receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times,” said FreightWatch.