High volume of travelers expected over holidays

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

AAA of Alabama is predicting that more than 100 million travelers will journey more than 50 miles from home this holiday season.

This is the first prediction on record for AAA. Nearly one in three Americans will take a trip this holiday, which is a 1.4 percent increase over last year and the seventh consecutive year of year-end holiday travel growth.

The year-end holiday travel period is from Wed., Dec. 23, 2015 until Sun., Jan. 3, 2016.

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“The holidays are a time for joining with friends and family, and the record number of people traveling this holiday should make for a joyous travel season,” AAA Alabama Spokesperson Clay Ingram said. “Rising incomes and low gas prices are helping to fill stockings this year, and more people than ever will choose to spend those savings on travel this year.”

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by continued improvement in the labor market, rising incomes and low prices, including gas prices that remain well below last year’s levels. This is helping boost Americans’ disposable income, but some consumers continue to remain cautious about their finances as they head into the holiday season.

According to AAA, driving remains the most popular mode of travel during the year-end holiday travel. More than 90 percent of travelers (91.3 million people) will drive to their holiday destinations. Air travel is expected to increase by 0.7 percent, with 5.8 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other means, including cruises, trains and busses will increase to 2.4 percent (3.4 million travelers).

This is the first year since 2009 that Americans will be paying for gas below $2. The Alabama average is at $1.81 per gallon, 59 cents less than last year.

Before hitting the road this year, AAA has a checklist, which includes checking the condition of your battery and tires before traveling. Three of the primary reasons motorists rely on AAA is either from dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires.

Those who are AAA members can download the mobile app by visiting AAA.com or calling 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

While out on the road, AAA also cautions against impaired driving during the holidays.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in five licensed drivers (21%) who drink at least occasionally reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.

“As we celebrate the holiday season, AAA urges travelers to be cautious about their safety and the safety of everyone sharing the roadways,” Ingram said. “Ninety-seven percent of licensed drivers consider it unacceptable to drive when they may have had too much to drink, yet there is an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death every 53 minutes.”