Holiday drivers to see increased patrols, lower gas prices - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Holiday drivers to see increased patrols, lower gas prices

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A record number of drivers are expected to hit the roads this weekend, ready to visit family and friends for the holidays. 

TripAdvisor expects a 6% increase in Christmas travel. 

For the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, that means more than six million motorists will travel the Turnpike during the holiday period beginning on Friday, Dec. 22

Drivers can expect to see increased police presence, lower gas prices, and possibly some rain or snow showers. 

Here's what you need to know to plan your trip:

Increased patrols:

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says they're looking to keep the roadways safer this Christmas season, by keeping drunk and distracted drivers off the roadways. 

Drivers can expect to see additional troopers on the highways this weekend. 

In 2016, 10 OVI-related fatal crashes resulted in 13 deaths during the Christmas Holiday. 

"During the holiday season, we see an increase in impaired driving," said Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol superintendent. "If you drink, don't drive. Designate a sober driver or call for a ride."

According to NHTSA, last year 781 people nationwide lost their lives in traffic crashes involving an impaired driver during the month of December. 

Troopers say it is never OK to drink and drive, they suggest planning ahead, designating a sober driver or making other arrangements.

Drivers can report impaired drivers and drug activity to the Patrol by calling #677.

Gas Prices:

Drivers in northeast Ohio will have an easier time at the pump this holiday weekend. 

Northeast Ohio gas prices have fallen, down more than 20 cents from a month ago. 

Average gas prices in the Valley are below state and national averages. 

According to AAA, gas prices in the Youngstown-Warren area are currently averaging $2.26 per gallon of regular unleaded fuel. 

Meanwhile, Ohio's average still rests at $2.36 per gallon, still below the national average of $2.43. 

However, drivers in Western Pa should prepare for a more expensive fill-up.

Pennsylvania's statewide average is nearly $0.25 higher than the national average. 

In Mercer County, the average price for a gallon of unleaded fuel is $2.73- nearly fifty cents higher than across the state line. 

Construction:

Even though summer is gone, the orange barrels and construction work remain. 

In northeast Ohio, drivers can still expect various lane restrictions on Interstate 80 and State Route 45 in Champion. 

Meanwhile, the PA Turnpike says all lanes will be open beginning 5 a.m. on Dec. 22 until 11 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1. 

Construction projects are suspended during this time.

Weather: 

As of Thursday afternoon, the StormTracker weather team was predicting the following forecasts for this weekend's travel schedule. 

Friday: Scattered rain showers, steadier rain at night. High 50 degrees. 
Saturday: Clouds, with showers likely in the morning. High 44 degrees. 
Sunday: Mostly cloudy with some snow showers possible, chances for snow higher later in the evening High 32 degrees. 
Monday: 60% chance of snow. High 25 degrees. 

To keep up to date on the latest, changing weather patterns, download the 21 StormTracker weather app on your smartphone. 

Anyone hitting the roads this weekend is being asked to slow down, take time to pre-plan, and pay attention to the roads and their fellow drivers. 

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