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AAA predicts 107.3 million Americans will travel

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting that more Americans will travel this holiday season than ever before.

AAA is forecasting 107.3 million Americans will travel by plane, train, automobile and other forms of transportation between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1, the period of time the association defines as the holiday travel period. AAA said this is the highest year-end travel volume on record, and it also marks the ninth consecutive year that travel has increased.

With so many people traveling, the LaGrange Police Department, Troup County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Patrol are prepared with increased checkpoints.

“Naturally, we do increase more of a traffic enforcement type presence on our highways and city streets. The reason being is a lot of people are traveling and you find sometimes during the holidays, all of us can get in a little hurry, so you should see an increase in our traffic enforcement unit,” said. LaGrange Police Department Sgt. Marshall McCoy. “We do ask people to take your time and make plans ahead of time. Plan ahead of time where you’re wanting to go to and leave in plenty of time.”

Travelers are also reminded not to drink and drive during the holidays.

“There’s only one place to take [drunk drivers], and that’s to the county jail,” McCoy said.

AAA said there’s a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared to last year, and since 2005, the year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million.

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing, in a press release. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”

AAA is predicting that 97.4 million people will travel by car, 6.4 million will travel by air and 2.2 to 3.6 million will travel by train, bus and cruise ships.

INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, said travel could take three times as long as a normal trip due to the sheer amount of traffic. On its website, AAA also forecasts the worst time for travel in many of the metropolitan areas in the United States.  The worst day for travel in Atlanta was Thursday, Dec. 21 and the worst time is between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

AAA projects gas prices to be an average of $2.47, a 28-cent increase over last year at this time. For people traveling by airplane, the news is good. AAA said the average price for end of year airfare is $165, the lowest price in five years.

Orlando, Florida is the top destination for people flying this holiday season.