Buckle Down for Busy Roads This Holiday Season

by Jana Ritter - Published: 12/23/2013

America’s highways will be more crowded than ever before this holiday season, according to a new forecast. AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 0.6% from the 94 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the fifth consecutive year of increases and the highest travel volume recorded for the season.

Snow traffic

The year-end holiday period is defined as Dec. 21 to Jan. 1. Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million people are expected to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.9% from last year. With almost 30% of all Americans will take a trip this holiday, more than one in four taking a road trip.

“While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year,” said AAA CEO Marshall L. Doney. Only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five and that was a decline in 2007 as the recession was just getting started, according to AAA.

“Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays,” said Doney.

AAA also warns with the holidays also comes a greater number of drivers getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety one in five of all licensed drivers, that 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. T

The survey also reveals that 96% of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable with 50% reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago.  With a greater number of motorists on the road, AAA said it is expecting to rescue 3.76 million people due to dead car batteries, flat tires and lockouts during the holiday season.

Members of America’s Road Team advised holiday drivers to be careful when traffic is heavy, especially when traveling around trucks. The Road Team is a group of truck drivers chosen by American Trucking Associations to advocate highway safety on behalf of the trucking industry.

“Always buckle up,” America’s Road Team Captain Dale Williams, a driver for Trimac Transportation, said in a statement.  “Weather can also be a factor during this time of year so check weather conditions before you get in your vehicle.”