CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) – The holiday season means travel, and sometimes that travel can mean a long distance. So, buckle up, stay alert and enjoy the holiday commute — as best you can.
AAA Carolinas predicts that a record 2.29 million Carolinians will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, with 1.54 million North Carolinians and 750,000 South Carolinians traveling, a 2.9 percent increase over 2018.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27, to Sunday, Dec. 1.
“Ninety percent of those traveling this Thanksgiving to visit with family and friends will be doing so with a road trip,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation President. “The sheer volume of vehicles on the road makes this holiday such a dangerous time to travel that’s why we can’t stress enough how important it is to practice safety behind the wheel. Buckle up, don’t speed, never drive distracted or impaired.”
How are people traveling?
- Automobiles: the vast majority of travelers – around 1.34 million North Carolinians and 678,000 South Carolinians will hit the road this Thanksgiving, nearly 2.8 percent more than last year.
- Planes: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air, at 4.6 percent, with 107,700 North Carolinians and 53,300 South Carolinians flying to their destinations.
- Other modes (trains, cruises and buses): 42,500 North Carolinians will use other modes of transportation to arrive at their destination along with 21,300 South Carolinians.
Nationwide, more than 55 million Americans will kick off this holiday season with a Thanksgiving trip-the most since 2005, according to data from AAA.
AAA says the busiest days to travel are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
If possible, AAA recommends that motorists plan their travel around these days (Thanksgiving Day is actually the best day to be on the roads).
In North Carolina, over the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday period (11/21/18-11/25/18) there were 3,805 crashes resulting in 22 fatalities and 1,481 injuries.
In South Carolina over the same time period, there was 1,280 collisions resulting in 12 fatalities and 506 injuries.
Thanksgiving eve has become a big night for binge drinking, as family and friends return home to reconnect for the holiday. Labeled “Blackout Wednesday,” many times the evening consists of over-drinking which can lead to drunk driving.
“Blackout Wednesday, also known as Drinksgiving can end with deadly consequences, so if you plan on drinking, have a plan,” added Wright. “If you don’t have a designated driver, call a friend or family member, taxi or car share service such as Uber or Lyft, to get you home safely.”
In order to stay safe on the roads late at night, AAA urges motorists to never drink & drive, utilize a ride-sharing service and stay off the roads the night before Thanksgiving if possible.
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