Nearly 2.8 million North Carolinians are expected to travel for Christmas or New Year's vacations.
Gas prices and air fares are holding steady, but 48,500 more people plan to travel for the holidays this year than last, according to AAA Carolinas.
Spokeswoman Angela Daley says that could be due to the improving economy. She says the weeks that include Christmas and New Year's Day are the most popular travel time, and it's also the longest. Daley says that makes it easier for people to plan trips at their convenience.
“Some people travel Christmas and not New Year's. Some people stay home for Christmas and travel New Years. Some people do both, or some people may make a very long vacation out of it,” Daley says. “There's just more flexibility with a longer travel period.”
Daley says that flexibility also makes it a safer time to hit the road. That's compared with Thanksgiving, when motorists have only a few set days to drive to and from their holiday destinations.
The state's rate of traffic fatalities has dropped by nearly eight percent in under a year. Alcohol related fatalities dropped by nearly 35 percent.
Daley chalks it up to highway patrol cracking down on impaired drivers and people who aren't wearing seatbelts.
“They do the Booze it and Lose it campaign with checkpoints and stepped-up patrols, and that certainly helps bring those fatalities down,” she says.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will suspend most highway construction projects during the holiday travel period. However, AAA still recommends checking your route and road conditions before leaving home.
Traffic information is available at http://www.ncdot.gov/.