With holiday travel projected to hit its highest level ever
thanks to back-to-back Christmas and New Year’s weekend holidays, state and
federal officials are also anticipating an increase in holiday traffic
AAA estimates that 62.7 million Americans will travel 50
miles or more from home this holiday, a 3 percent increase from last year’s
60.8 million travelers.
“With Christmas and New
Year’s Day both falling on Saturdays, many people will make weekend getaways to
be with friends and family,” said AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes.
The downside to the
anticipated record number of travelers, combined with an anticipated increased
number of impaired drivers on the road, is the prospect of the fatality rate
increasing as well.
The record travel this
holiday could result in a surge of traffic deaths, according to AAA and the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the nearly 51 million
travelers AAA expects to be on the roads this holiday season, many will be
traveling on some of the most dangerous travel days of the year, NHTSA warned.
NHTSA projections show
approximately 410 people will die in motor vehicle crashes during each of the
two holiday periods, resulting in 820 fatalities. Forty-five percent of these
fatalities will involve an impaired driver – blood alcohol content of 0.08
percent or higher.
the equivalent of a fully loaded airliner every week to impaired driving is not
acceptable,” said Jeffrey W. Runge, NHTSA Administrator. “This holiday season
and every day, our message is simple – always designate a sober driver and
buckle up every trip, every time.”
Governors’ Highway Safety Association noted that 40 states are conducting
special holiday crackdowns to keep the roadways safe.
highway safety officials, we are sick and tired of the needless tragedies caused
by drunken driving. To those who insist on endangering themselves and others,
our message is simple: You will pay a serious price,” said Col. Jim Champagne,
Chairman of GHSA. “Police will be enforcing the law this holiday season and
there will be no exceptions and no excuses.”
50.9 million travelers (81 percent of all holiday travelers) expect to go by
motor vehicle, a 2.9 percent increase from the 49.4 million who drove a year
greatest portion of holiday travel by vehicle will originate in the Southeast
with 13.3 million, followed by the West, 12.9 million; Midwest, 10.3 million;
the Great Lakes, 8.0 million; and the Northeast, 6.4 million.
are the expected destination for 40 percent of Christmas-New Year’s travelers,
followed by towns/rural areas at 29 percent, according to AAA. Oceans and
beaches are popular, getting 15 percent of travelers, followed by mountain
areas, 7 percent; 2 percent for lake areas; and 1 percent each for
theme/amusement parks and state/national parks. Another 4 percent responded
with other, and 1 percent said they didn’t know.