MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Despite rising gas prices, people are still making holiday travel a priority.

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Gas prices in the Twin Cities are around $3.71 per gallon, which is less than the national average.

Triple A projects 33 million people will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, which is up 2.9 percent from last year.

But what’s happening on the roads has the Minnesota State Patrol officials like Lt. Jason Bartell pleasantly taken aback.

“I think we’re kind of surprised,” Bartell said.

With the increase in traffic, State troopers are all smiles that they’ve actually made far less arrests of people driving under the influence this holiday weekend than in years past.

“Already this weekend we’ve had 64 DWI arrests. That’s down from last year I think overall. We expected it to be a little higher, but of course we’re really thrilled that the numbers are declining. That’s what we’re trying for every year,” Bartell said.

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Every year the Minnesota State Patrol announces an increase in enforcement during the holiday weekend.

Lt. Jason Bartell believes giving drivers a heads up of what’s to come has helped in decreasing the numbers.

“I think it’s a mixture of everything from our marketing to getting the word out there to our enforcement. A lot of different factors, but of course stepping up enforcement always gets people thinking and people are starting to drive a little more safe and not drinking and driving,” he said.

Bartell says video showing people being arrested for drinking and driving is probably one of the biggest motivators for not get behind the wheel after having an adult beverage.

Not only is it cutting down on DUI arrest, it has also cut into the number of major accidents on Minnesota roadways.

Lt. Bartell says the weather is great and traffic is going to be busy.

This stepped up enforcement continues Monday night.

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The State Patrol advises people to pay attention, slow down, buckle up and make sure you don’t drink and drive.

Reg Chapman