Busy roads: Holiday traffic expected to be heavy

Published 3:00 am Friday, November 20, 2015

Crowded highways and added trooper patrols will greet Alabama drivers during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will have all available troopers on the roads between 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, and midnight Sunday, Nov. 29.

“We are committed to ensuring public safety and preventing crimes and traffic violations that lead to deaths and injuries,” Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said. “We will not tolerate individuals who are driving under the influence, and Troopers will arrest the impaired drivers.”

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During the 2014 Thanksgiving period, Troopers assigned to the Highway Patrol Division investigated six traffic fatalities, including two individuals who were killed while riding an ATV. Of the other four individuals killed, only two were using seat belts at the time of the deadly crashes.

The added patrols are prompted, in part, by the heavy traffic expected during the holiday season.

AAA Travel forecasts 46.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, a 0.6 percent increase over the 46.6 million people who traveled last year and the most since 2007. With 300,000 additional holiday travelers, this marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving travel.

“While some people remain cautious about the economy and their finances, many thankful Americans continue to put a premium on traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones,” said Clay Ingram, AAA Alabama spokesman.

Gas prices remain well below 2014 levels, providing an early holiday bonus to the more than 89 percent of holiday travelers who will drive to their destinations.

“One holiday gift has come early this year,” Ingram said. “Americans will likely pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway.”

Nearly 42 million Americans will take a holiday road trip this Thanksgiving, an increase of 0.7 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 0.1 percent, with 3.6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease 1.4 percent this Thanksgiving, to 1.4 million travelers.

AAA estimates that consumers are saving nearly $265 million on gasoline every day compared to a year ago. This has helped boost disposable income, enabling many Americans to travel this Thanksgiving. Most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.15, which is 75 cents less than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.80).  The Alabama average is $1.90 per gallon, which is 79 cents less that this time last year.