Record number of travelers for Christmas-New Year’s week

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From AAA Media Services

More Americans than ever on record – 115.6 million – will travel this holiday season, from yesterday (Sunday, Dec. 22) through Wednesday, Jan. 1.

That is the most in nearly 20 years since AAA began tracking in 2000, and represents an increase of 3.9% over last year. This means that 4.3 million more people packing up their sleighs for a holiday getaway.

More than 104 million of these holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects delays to be the worst on Thursday, Dec. 26, with afternoon delays reaching nearly double congestion-free drive times in major U.S. cities.

“Holiday cheer is at an all-time high this year, with unemployment at historically low levels, and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth,” said Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays.”

According to AAA, the worst time to travel through Atlanta will be Thursday, Dec. 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with a delay multiplier of 1.3 times the normal delays.

By the numbers: 2019 Year-End Holiday Travel

Total numbers of travelers:
• National: 115.6 million travelers
• Georgia: 3,096,267 travelers

Automobiles: More Americans than ever on record will drive this holiday season.
• National: 104.8 million; 3.9% more than last year.
• Georgia: 186,799; 3.7% increase over last year.

Planes:
• National: 6.97 million people will take to the skies, the highest number on record since 2003; 4.9% more than last year.
• Georgia: 186,799 Georgians will travel by air, a 4.0% increase over last year.

Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:
• National: 3% increase to 3.81 million passengers
• Georgia: 3.8% increase to 126,269 passengers

Rushing home for the holidays
For the 104.8 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts only marginal delays throughout the holiday week. Nationally, drivers could experience double the travel times on Thursday and Friday afternoon, although New York City and Washington, D.C. could see triple the delays.

“With kids out of school and many Americans taking extended time off for the holidays, drivers will experience only incremental delays throughout the week. Although congestion will be lighter than normal, knowing when and where major delays will likely happen will help save time and reduce stress this holiday season,” says Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst at INRIX.

The holidays can be a stressful time during driving
AAA encourages drivers to maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching their destination safely. AAA offers these tips to help prevent road rage:

• Do Not Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.

• Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it is not personal.

• Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

Gas Prices expected to drop
Gas prices steadily declined in November, paving the way for even cheaper prices for the year-end holidays. AAA expects most motorists to see gas prices drop before the new year, but will likely be slightly more expensive than last December’s national gas price average of $2.37.

Today’s lowest gas prices in the Newnan area for regular gas are in the $2.25-$2.29 range.

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