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Experts predict increase in holiday travel

Photo by Michael Davis
AAA, the auto club, is predicting a 3 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel in Georgia and Florida this year. Nearly 1 million Georgians are expected to be traveling by vehicle.

Photo by Michael Davis AAA, the auto club, is predicting a 3 percent increase in Thanksgiving travel in Georgia and Florida this year. Nearly 1 million Georgians are expected to be traveling by vehicle.

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Thanksgiving holiday travel is expected to increase by 3 percent this year in Georgia and Florida, according to AAA, the auto club.

In Georgia, 982,000 motorists are expected to hit the roadways over the Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 26 through Nov. 29, the club said. About 77,000 Georgians are expected to fly to their Thanksgiving destinations this year.

About 86 percent of American travelers will opt to travel on the roads this Thanksgiving holiday, while about 6 percent will fly. Since 2000, the number of people flying during the Thanksgiving weekend has dropped by 62 percent, according to AAA.

"Air travel is down significantly," said Jessica Brady, a spokesperson for AAA Auto Club South. She said increases in air fare, and decreases in flights and capacity, have contributed to that trend.

"Couple that with various fees, with luggage and other amenities, such as food, [it is] causing travelers to think twice, before choosing to fly," she said.

According to AAA, there will be approximately 38.4 million Americans traveling a distance of 50 miles or more away from home during the Thanksgiving weekend. Nationally, Thanksgiving travel is expected to increase by 1.4 percent, compared to last year's 37.8 million travelers.

"We take the projected increase in travelers as a sign that economic recovery may finally be taking root, and we believe many Americans certainly share the same hope," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president of AAA Auto Club South.

Brady said that before venturing onto the highways, motorists should take their vehicles to a service center for routine maintenance.

Travelers are also encouraged to drive safely and be patient.

"Almost a million of them [Georgians] are going to be on roadways," said Brady. "Do not use cell phones, or text while driving. There are going to be a lot of people, from out of town, that will be on the roadways. They may be confused or get lost. If someone has their blinker on, let them through."

Brady said big Thanksgiving dinners, long days and late nights, can also lead to dangerous drowsiness. "If you have the ability to stay the night, go ahead and do that, and it is best not to drive when you normally should be sleeping," she said.

Brady said AAA offers a "Tow to Go" program to AAA members and non-members, at no cost. This program assists motorists who are intoxicated, by towing their vehicles to their homes. This service is confidential and drivers should call 1(800) AAA-HELP. The program begins on Nov. 26 and ends Jan. 2.

"It depends on how busy, or where they are located," Brady said of how long a driver might have to wait for AAA to arrive. "Anywhere from 30 minutes, to an hour."