One of deadliest, busiest travel seasons kicks off Saturday

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Saturday marks the first day of the 11 day holiday travel season. According to AAA, the 11 days will be one of the busiest, and the one of the deadliest travel seasons of the year in South Carolina.

"For South Carolina, the Christmas holiday season is definitely one of our deadliest, as far as fatalities on the road," AAA Branch Manager Tracie Lawrence said.

According to AAA, more than 1.17 million people will drive on the South Carolina roads from Dec. 22 through Jan. 1.

AAA released a press release stating: In 2010-2011, 68 people died on South Carolina roads during the year-end holiday travel period. This averages to 6.2 fatalities per day, nearly three times higher than the daily average of 2.2 traffic fatalities during the rest of the year.

"I think that sometimes you know a lot of folks end up working on the 22nd and they leave, they're leaving a little later so fatigue can definitely play a major part in that. You know, wanting to get there and not taking the time to rest up first so people become sleepy and make mistakes or fall asleep at the wheel," Lawrence said.

AAA reports gas prices in Myrtle Beach are on average $0.07 lower than they were this time last year, so more people are expected to travel by car. Lawrence said this will cause roads to be even more hectic than a typical day.

"There are times when folks think, well the traffic is backed up, I know this exit is my exit so I'm gonna jump onto the shoulder and speed off on the shoulder...which is very dangerous," Lawrence said.

AAA advises drivers follow the speed limit, wear a seatbelt, do not drink and drive, keep an emergency kit in the car and stay hydrated to prevent a negative outcome to the holiday season.

"Staying hydrated is really important. Sure you may have to stop to go to the restroom more often but staying hydrated keeps folks more alert and having to stop gets your blood flowing and gets you out there and refreshes the mind and helps to rejuvenate someone if they are getting a little sleepy," Lawrence said.

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