Happy Labor Day, everyone. If you have the day off, here's hoping you'll get to enjoy it. And if you're behind the wheel of a vehicle, a boat, or the controls of an aircraft, please be careful.
If you've been traveling during the weekend, you most likely noticed an increased presence of law enforcement as officers, deputies and Oklahoma Highway Patrol personnel work to keep you safe. They're watching for those who have pushed the limits on celebrating, on speed, on other traffic and boating laws.
You also may have seen crews working on construction or repairs of our thoroughfares.
You certainly have encountered heavier traffic if you've been on one of the main highways in Oklahoma. AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said last week that an estimated 386,000 people in our state were expected to make a trip of 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, which began Thursday and ends this evening.
That puts Labor Day between Memorial Day and Independence Day in terms of total travelers on the highways, about what you would expect if you kept track of yearly usage during holidays.
For those who cross state lines on their trips, weather could be a concern, particularly if you were heading east or southeast, where Hurricane Isaac was affecting conditions. But overall, travelers could expect average weather for this time of year was expected.
There are, of course, other things to consider.
I have a Pikepass and use it regularly. I know our Pikepass doesn't work in other states, but is it possible that could ever change? I've heard there are other toll-road systems where you can travel into other states and use the same equipment. It would seem that would be most convenient.
You are correct, Jimmy, that Pikepass is not good in other states. It's very possible that someday Oklahoma's equipment will work elsewhere. I can't give you a time frame, however. There are a lot of details to be worked out before that can happen, involving equipment capabilities, cost, billing, and other factors. But it is being looked into, I hear.
As for other states using a transponder compatible with equipment other than their own ... yes, that is true.
In the northeast, for instance, there is E-ZPass. Last I saw, there were about 14 states using it. It does make it easier on the motorists, for sure. When you consider the number of drivers in that area, you can see that the process could allow a smoother traffic flow and save time.
It's easy to imagine the benefit. As I said, someday you'll probably see it here.
By the way ...
Another email I received said we shouldn't have toll roads anyway. The writer said states get enough money from taxes to pay for the roads and have no need of charging fees to drive routes around big cities and through light-population areas.
Personally, I don't ever want to see my taxes reach the level in our state that would be required to pay for all roadways' building and maintenance. It's a little more costly than he thinks.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.