ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesotans once again are getting an early start on their Labor Day travels, both to savor last long weekend of summer and to beat the traffic, resort owners say.
About half of the bookings for holiday getaways at Kavanaugh's Resort & Restaurant in Brainerd were due to start Thursday night, said co-owner John Kavanaugh.
Early check-ins on Friday were also likely, said Dan Kaldahl of Fair Hills Resort and Wildflower Golf Course in Detroit Lakes, judging by the common question from vacationers when they book: "How soon can I check in?"
"A lot of people try to leave the city early. There are nevertheless more people on the freeways trying to get out of town for the holiday," said Judy Melander, Minnesota Department of Transportation spokeswoman. "The freeways can only handle so many cars."
Leaving early, however, is still a good idea, transportation officials say, particularly early morning, provided you've had enough sleep to drive safely. Leaving Saturday, after most travelers have already reached their destinations, also may pay off.
"Leave early, leave late and expect delays," Melander said.
Allowing extra time to account for road construction delays is wise, too. Although most projects will be on hiatus until Tuesday, detours, lane closures and other travel restrictions may still be in effect.
Another safety tip: Slow down.
Last year, seven people died and 348 were injured in crashes in Minnesota over the Labor Day weekend. Speed is cited as a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal traffic crashes.
As part of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's "Safe & Sober" campaign, officers from 330 local and county law enforcement agencies are putting in overtime and adding extra shifts to target aggressive and drunken drivers this weekend.
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