AAA: Increased motorists expected for holiday season

Published 6:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Travel is expected to be at a record high this holiday season, according to AAA – The Auto Club Group.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Travel is expected to be at a record high this holiday season, according to AAA – The Auto Club Group.

Motorists should expect busy roadways this holiday season, but receive a holly jolly surprise at the pump as travel is expected to heat up during Christmas and the new year.
“If you are on the road, you won’t be alone,” Stephanie Milani, public affairs rectors with AAA – The Auto Club Group, told the Elizabethton Star Friday. “We’re expecting more than 2.4 million motorists in Tennessee to drive during this holiday season, a three percent increase compared to last year.”
Milani added the increase is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. According to AAA, this year is expected to a record-setting year for travel with more than 103 million Americans expected to travel for the year-end holidays.
Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, seconded Milani statements about why this year is expected to be a busy time for motorists.
“The reason we’re forecasting more travelers than ever before is because of improvements in the economy,” Jenkins said. “Wages are rising, employment numbers are looking good, consumer spending is expected to remain high and gas prices are low.”
AAA – The Auto Club Group recognizes the year-end holiday travel period from Friday, Dec. 23 – Monday, Jan. 2. Milani added the average new year price, nationally, was pegged at $2.24 in 2015 but that this year’s prices will be at $2, remaining below year-end holiday levels dating as far back as 2009.
According to the forecast provided by AAA, the organization estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to 2015.
“Wednesday’s average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.22 nationwide and $2.04 in Tennessee,” the statement read.
Gas prices were volatile this year in the Southeast due to the Colonial Pipeline having to be shut down twice.
Milani added that average gas prices in the state on Friday were at $2.05, the same as year but a five-cent increase compared to last month.
“We’ve seen gas prices trend upward this year after due to the Colonial Pipeline being shut down,” she said.
Jenkins added the recent gas price increase has also been credited to the rising cost of crude oil.
According to GasBuddy, a crowdsourcing initiative that provides real time updates on gas prices across the country, Elizabethton had six gas stations that all were at $1.99 for gas. The Shell station in Hampton was at $2.09 for regular gas prices while Roan Mountain’s regular gas prices were steadily around $2.10.
While on the road, safety is proving to be a number one concern.
According to AAA, more than 980,000 motorists are expected to be rescued this holiday season.
“AAA expects to rescue more than 980,000 motorists over the 11-day holiday travel period,” AAA said in a statement. “With the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts.”
AAA encourages to have their vehicle inspected by a trusted repair shop before taking to the roads.
The group also provided tips for motorists to use before traveling:
• Check windshield wipers and inspect tires to ensure safe drivability before setting out
•Pack an emergency kit containing a flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle
• When driving, slow down and do not tailgate
• Leave following distances to a minimum of five to six seconds to allow additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary
• Minimize distractions while behind the wheel

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