CHARLOTTE, N.C. (December 14, 2018) – A record breaking 4.7 million Carolinians plan to travel during the year-end holiday season this year, which is a 4.4% increase from last year and the most since AAA Carolinas has been tracking holiday travel. AAA Carolinas forecasts that approximately 3.2 million North Carolinians and 1.5 million South Carolinians will travel by automobiles, planes, trains and other modes. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, December 22 through Tuesday, January 1.
Hitting the Road
The majority of travelers will be driving to their destinations, with just over 2.9 million North Carolinians and 1.35 million South Carolinians hitting the roads over the 10 day holiday period.
Those doing so will be enjoying the lowest prices at the pump in 2018 – and even lower than last year’s holiday. As of December 14, motorists in North Carolina are paying an average of $2.27 at the pump, which is the lowest price all year and six-cents cheaper than this time last year. Motorists in South Carolina are averaging $2.04 at the pump – also the lowest of the year and 15 cents cheaper than this time last year.
AAA Carolinas recommends that motorists avoid driving through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less congested and motorists will have more time to reach their destinations safely. Traveling on the holiday itself (Christmas Day) often results in fewer cars on the road.
Additionally, AAA offers the following holiday road survival tips:
· Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads.
· Keep valuables in the trunk or covered storage area.
· Have your roadside assistance contact information on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
· Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times, in case of emergency.
· Obey traffic safety laws: Wear your seatbelt. Don’t speed. Don’t drink and drive. Eliminate distractions behind the wheel, such as mobile devices. Disconnect and drive.
· Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop for an inspection.
Safety on the Road
More people on the roads means a higher chance for collisions. In North Carolina, there were 2,206 crashes resulting in five fatalities over the Christmas holiday period and 690 crashes leading to eight fatalities over the New Year’s period, according to the NCDOT In South Carolina there were 886 collisions resulting in seven fatalities over the Christmas holiday weekend and 733 collisions resulting in five fatalities over the New Year’s holiday period, according to the SCDPS.
Beginning on December 14, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and law enforcement partners will begin their annual Sober or Slammer! Campaign, which includes an increase in checkpoints and extra staff to monitor drunk and unsafe driving over the holidays. In a similar campaign, North Carolina Highway Patrol will be in full-force monitoring for drunk driving as well with its Booze it and Lose it program.
Taking to the Skies
An estimated 200,000 North Carolinians and 90,000 South Carolinians will travel by air during the year-end holiday. Many Carolinians are using this period to travel to vacation destinations. The top year-end holiday destinations based on AAA Carolinas Travel bookings are:
3. Western Caribbean Cruise
4. Eastern Caribbean Cruise
5. Dominican Republic
Airports will be busy and security lines may be longer than usual around the holidays. Travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to the scheduled departure of a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight. During peak travel times, travelers should contact their airline for guidance, as it may be necessary to arrive even earlier. This time of year travelers need to also be aware of potential weather delays. It’s important for passengers to check their flight status regularly before traveling to the airport. To expedite travel, AAA recommends enrolling in programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.
AAA Carolinas estimates approximately 70,000 North Carolinians and 40,000 South Carolinians will use other modes of transportation, including trains, buses and rails.
Since the majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, AAA Carolinas – the leader in roadside assistance – expects to rescue over 22,000 motorists during the year-end holiday period. Car battery-related issues, lockouts and flat tires are typically the leading reasons AAA is called over the holidays.
AAA Carolinas recommends that travelers download the free AAA Mobile app to request roadside assistance for members, map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and also search nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. For added convenience, Wazers can now request AAA roadside assistance directly from the Waze app by tapping the Report menu.
To estimate fuel costs, travelers can go to www.fuelcostcalculator.com to input starting city, destination and the make and model of car.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.1 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.