CHARLOTTE, N.C. (December 12, 2019) – A record breaking 4.9 million Carolinians plan to travel during the year-end holiday season this year, which is a 3.9% increase from last year. AAA forecasts that approximately 3.3 million North Carolinians and 1.6 million South Carolinians will travel by automobiles, planes, trains and other modes during the end of year holiday travel period – which is defined as Sunday, Dec. 22 through Wednesday, Jan. 1.
“While most Carolinians will be paying higher gas prices than last year, that won’t stop them from hitting the road during this time of the year to spend time with family and friends,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “Everyone needs to prepare now for crowded roadways and airports, as this marks the highest travel volume for the year-end holidays in the Carolinas.”
Hitting the Road
The majority of travelers will be driving to their destinations, with just over 3 million North Carolinians and 1.4 million South Carolinians hitting the roads over the 11 day holiday period.
Those traveling by car will likely be doing so with higher gas prices than this time last year. As of December 12, North Carolinians are seeing an average price of $2.37, which is nine cents more than this time last year and 18 cents more than last Christmas. South Carolinians are seeing an average price of $2.28, which is 23 cents more than this time last year and 31 cents more than last Christmas. For updated fuel costs by state visit gasprices.aaa.com
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.
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.
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. https://carolinas.aaa.com/automotive/
- Be mindful of road rage as motorists are in a hurry to get to their destinations. Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. Be tolerant of other drivers, remain calm and do not make gestures to other motorists.
Safety on the Road
More motorists on the roads means a higher chance for collisions. In North Carolina, 7,842 crashes reported resulting in 36 fatalities over the end of year holiday period, according to NCDOT. In South Carolina over the same time period, there were 3,559 crashes resulting in 31 fatalities according to the SCDPS.
Beginning 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 210,000 North Carolinians and 94,000 South Carolinians will travel by air during the year-end holiday, constituting a 4.9% increase from last year. Many Carolinians are using this period to travel to vacation destinations. The top year-end holiday destinations based on AAA Carolinas Travel bookings are:
- Western Caribbean Cruise
- Eastern Caribbean Cruise
- 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 72,000 North Carolinians and 41,000 South Carolinians will use other modes of transportation, including trains, buses and rails.
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.