Holiday travel expected to increase this year

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Highway fatalities in South Carolina are down, but travel experts expect more people to be on the roads this holiday season, as the economy picks up.

AAA says more than 42 million people are expected to hit the road this holiday season, traveling more than 50 miles from home, and clogging up the roadways.

"Typically we'll see a spike on the Friday before Thanksgiving and Saturday morning. Then the traffic should taper off and gear up again Tuesday night because kids are out of school Wednesday, and again Wednesday night. And then of course Sunday going home the roadways will be congested," AAA travel manager Lori Jo Simmons said.

Highway Patrol and local agencies will be out in full force making sure people obey traffic laws. They say accidents are most likely to occur Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Friday after Thanksgiving, and Sunday as people travel home. They say fatal accidents can occur at anytime so be careful.

The highway patrol has a goal of fewer than 800 traffic fatalities on South Carolina roads for 2010.  The last time that happened was in 1982.

AAA reminds drivers to be prepared in case of breakdowns and watch out for distracted drivers.

"It's a lot of people who are looking for the sales. They're in a hurry. It's very crowded, not to mention the texting, the cell phones, the distracted driving. So it's a time to be very aware," Simmons said.

AAA's projected numbers for 2010 travel are a drastic turn from 2008 when there was a historic travel decline by 25.2 percent. AAA expects airfare to increase by 4 percent and hotel rates to increase by 6 percent over the holidays.

Car rental costs on the other hand are expected to go down.

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