Record number of travelers expected this holiday season in North Carolina
A record number of North Carolinians are hitting the road and catching flights this holiday season, according to AAA Carolinas.
AAA estimates that nearly 3 million people in the state will travel 50 miles or more for Christmas and New Year’s. And 91 percent of the estimated 2,939,500 travelers will drive to their destination, according to AAA.
The holiday travel season is 13 days, from Dec. 23 through Jan. 4.
“Falling gas prices and an improving economy has led to more North Carolinians traveling to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year with family and friends,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, in a press release. “With most people hitting the roads during this time, we want to stress the importance of buckling up, avoiding drinking and driving, texting behind the wheel and speeding.��
In recent weeks, gas prices have fallen drastically across the county. In Rowan County, gas was below $2.40 a gallon on Monday. The nationwide average Monday was $2.39, according to AAA.
Gas prices haven’t been this low since 2009.
Sgt. Michael Baker, with the State Highway Patrol, urged drivers to be patient and pay attention to the road. He said traffic is expected to pick up in the coming days and that troopers will be “aggressively” looking for impaired drivers, speeders and people who are texting while driving.
He said mobile devices are the primary thing taking drivers’ attention away from the road.
Baker said drunken driving checkpoints will be set up across the state on New Year’s Eve. Drivers can dial “star 47” from their cellphone to get assistance from police or report bad driving.
AAA estimates 156,700 North Carolinians will fly to their destinations during the holidays, and 56,000 of those people will leave from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport today through Christmas.
Security checkpoints at the airport are scheduled to open at 4 a.m. this week. Travelers are asked to give themselves plenty of time between when they leave home and when their flight departs.
Monday evening, just one of the airport’s four long-term parking lots had space available. Travelers can call call 704.359.5555 to hear the latest parking conditions.
The weather forecast for the region calls for light rain today with temperatures in the low 40s and thunderstorms Wednesday with high temperatures approaching 70 degrees. The weather is expected to clear up beginning Thursday with temperatures in the 50s through Sunday.
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