Record number of people expected to travel this holiday season

Published 3:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2018

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and AAA is projecting a record number of vehicles on the highways and byways as people begin travelling home today.

Clay Ingram, spokesperson for AAA Alabama, said an all-time record 112.5 million people are expected to be travelling 50 miles or more during the holiday season from December 22 to January 1.

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and more Americans than ever will journey to spend time with friends and family or choose to take a vacation,” Ingram said. “Strong economic growth fueled by robust consumer spending continues to drive strong demand for seasonal travel. With a record-breaking one-third of the country choosing to travel this holiday, roadways and airports are sure to be busy.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

That does not even include some of the busiest traffic of the season, he said.

“(Today) is going to be the worst travel day of the whole period according to our survey,” Ingram said. “It’s going to be really hectic out there for the next two weeks as people are traveling for Christmas or getting in their last-minute shopping or head to bowl games. It’s going to be busy no matter where you are.”

Over 102 automobiles are expected to be on the roads and travel in Atlanta Saturday is projected to take four times longer than typical commute times.

Ingram said there are several reasons other than family visits that drive-through traffic could increase in the area.

“People take holiday cruises now,” Ingram said. “You don’t have to clean or cook and there’s entertainment for all ages. We book a lot of those people and they will be heading down to ports whether Mobile, Cape Canaveral or even Miami that could come through that area.”

For the safety of travelers, construction workers and maintenance crews, the Alabama Department of Transportation has announced there will be no temporary lane closures on Alabama interstates from noon, Friday, Dec. 21, through midnight, Tuesday, Dec. 25, and from noon, Friday, Dec. 28, through midnight, Tuesday, Jan. 1.

“To keep traffic flowing, it’s important that drivers do their part and plan to celebrate safely,” said Allison Green, Drive Safe Alabama coordinator with ALDOT. “Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can wreck your holiday and have serious consequences that continue long past the new year.”

Ingram said drivers should prepare for the traffic by giving themselves more time to travel.

“Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours,” Ingram said. “If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.”