Wiregrass: Safe traveling during the holidays

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Dothan, AL (WSFA) – Not everyone will be home for the holidays this year.

Lots of folks are out on the roads, as the official Thanksgiving travel period is underway.

The Department of Public Safety estimates traffic will be especially heavy Wednesday night through Sunday at midnight.

Don Wayne, one of those holiday travelers said, "We left expecting it to take us 3 hours and 45 minutes to get here."

Wayne ended up driving more than five hours to spend his Thanksgiving in the Circle City.

He said, "We're visiting family, and we don't get to visit them as often as we'd like, so we thought this would be a good time to do so."

And when you add in travelers like Don with holiday shoppers and college football faithful making their way to the Iron Bowl, it could be a recipe for a holiday headache on the highways.

Clay Ingram, from AAA Alabama said, "When the roads are congested like this, that becomes a major issue because there's less reaction time and cars are closer together."

AAA officials say they expect to see 1.4% more travelers this year than last, and most will be on the highways not the sky ways.

Ingram said, "86% of the people traveling will be going by automobile and only about 6% traveling by air.  That's because there are fewer flights now, those flights are crowded, and a lot of the airlines are charging fees for baggage."

Another reason, gas prices have slowly crept down.   And even though we're still paying on average 70 cents more than last year, folks are still happy to see any kind of drop in prices.

Wayne said, "It cost us about $35 to get here, so $70 round trip.  That's not too unreasonable for today's time."

But drivers beware, all eyes are on you!

Officer Thomas Davis, from the Dothan Police Department said, "It's a team effort, we're talking state troopers, the county, the city.   We think the most important thing is just being together with your family and having fun.  But being there and getting there safely."

They're hoping folks will pack some patience this Thanksgiving travel season.

Last year in Alabama, 10 people died in car crashes during this holiday travel period.

Six of them weren't wearing their seatbelts, and alcohol was a factor in at least three of the accidents.

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