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AAA Expects Record Number of Holiday Travelers

Falling gasoline prices will fuel the travel plans for the more than 102 million people who are expected to pack up their cars for a holiday road trip.

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A record 112.5 million Americans will take to the nation’s runways, roadways and rails this holiday season, AAA predicts.

The forecasted number represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year and the highest number since AAA began tracking holiday travel.

Falling gasoline prices will fuel the travel plans for the more than 102 million people who are expected to pack up their cars for a holiday road trip. Gas prices averaged $2.46 for the first week of December, marking the cheapest national gas-price averages of the year.

INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested U.S. cities could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip.

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“It’s exciting to see a record-breaking number of people traveling and bringing cheer to family and friends,” said Jim Lehman, president of AAA East Central. “The strong economy and declining gas-price trends play a role in this year’s projected increase.”

The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22, through Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The 11-day span is one day longer than last year, due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Tuesdays this year.

Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers to experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – starting on Dec. 19 – as commuters and holiday travelers mix on our nation’s busiest roadways. Drivers in Atlanta, New York City, Boston and Houston will see travel times more than three times longer than a normal trip.

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AAA said it expects to rescue more than 960,000 motorists at the roadside during the holiday period. Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble.

AAA recommends that motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid-level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown, AAA noted.

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