Holiday week travel expected to be the most in two decades

Published 4:52 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

Record numbers of travelers will take to the nation’s rails, highways and airports to visit relatives or take seasonal vacations during the Christmas holidays.

The Christmas holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 21, to Wednesday, Jan. 1.

According to the AAA travel forecast, more than 115.6 million people are expected to travel for the Christmas holidays. That is the most in nearly 20 years since AAA began tracking in 2000 and represents 4.3 million more people packing up their sleighs for a holiday getaway.

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A total of 104.8 million Americans, the most on record, will drive to their holiday destinations. That means 3.9 million more people are expected on the roads compared with last year, for an increase of 3.9 percent.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects delays to be the worst Dec. 26, with afternoon delays reaching nearly double drive times in major U.S. cities, whether driving to Jackson, Austin, or even the beach.

Because gas prices steadily declined in the month of November, drivers see good deals on gas this holiday season.

AAA expects most who are traveling by car 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.

In Mississippi, the Mississippi Highway Patrol will begin its 2019 Christmas travel enforcement period with the annual safety awareness initiative titled “Home for the Holidays.”

MHP’s 2019 Christmas travel enforcement period begins at 12:01 a.m. Monday and ends at midnight Wednesday, but the holiday safety initiative will run through the end of the year and is designed to ensure safe travel for motorists while also reminding them of their responsibilities during the busy holiday season.

During the holiday period, all available troopers will be used on all state, federal, and interstate systems to combat reckless driving along with speeding and distracted driving issues.

Safety checkpoints will also be conducted throughout the period to enforce child restraint and seatbelt laws and remove impaired drivers.

During the 2018 Christmas enforcement period, MHP investigated 203 crashes with 2 fatalities during the 2018. If alcohol is included in celebrations, we urge motorists to designate a sober driver or have other means of safe transportation.

“The 2019 MHP Thanksgiving period was deadly across our state with 10 fatalities and we want motorists to remember how dangerous traveling can be,” MHP spokesman Capt. John Poulos said.

“Safe driving should be a major part of everyone’s holiday plans and making it home for the holidays should be everyone’s goal.”