AAA Carolinas

Wake County bus driver Auh Murel Wright greets a student before the afternoon trip home. Wright is among many school-based employees who struggle to make ends meet on their current salaries.
Jess Clark / WUNC

Thousands of school buses will hit the roads this week for the first day of classes at many schools across the state. Whether you're a parent of a school-age child or a motorist sharing the road with buses, here are several things to keep in mind: 

traffic on Interstate 40 in Durham
Elizabeth Baier / WUNC

More travelers will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend than any year since 2005.

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Calls for roadside assistance reached an all-time high in 2015, with nearly one million motorists asking for help throughout North and South Carolina, according to AAA Carolinas.

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

More than 1 million North Carolinians are expected to hit the road for a final summer vacation over this Labor Day holiday weekend.  Low gas prices in North Carolina and surrounding states have made driving the most popular travel choice for vacationers.  

AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright says another trend they're seeing is people planning trips not far from home.

"For people in the Carolinas, Charlotte is always a big draw," Wright says. 

Chapel Hill Car Accident
Triplezero / Flikr

AAA Carolinas has labeled rural North Carolina the "killing grounds" for drivers in accidents.

More than 1,100 people died in traffic accidents in North Carolina last year, though the number is lower than in years prior. A new report from AAA Carolinas shows the continuing trend of fewer fatalities on the road since 2010. The number is dropping, but slowly.

Car engine
Via Tsuji / Flickr Creative Commons

Drivers in North Carolina pay more when the check engine light comes on than motorists in other states. 

That's according to a survey from the organization Car M.D.  The annual state-by-state ranking found the average car repair cost came out to about $426 in the Tar Heel State.

Traffic jam
epSos via Flickr, Creative Commons

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.

A wrecked car in Mecklenburg County, which had the highest total number of fatal crashes in 2012.
W. Robert Howell via creative commons

For the third year in a row, the same four counties have topped AAA Carolinas’ list of North Carolina’s most dangerous counties for car collisions. Pitt, New Hanover, Person and Watauga Counties were ranked the four most dangerous, all averaging over 250 car crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Pitt County has topped the list for five straight years.