About 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers are planning to get to their destinations by automobile. The Florida Highway Patrol will be on the roadways throughout the holiday.
More than 2 million Floridians are expected to join an estimated 43 million projected to travel at least 50 miles away from home over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a survey by AAA Auto Club.
Nationwide, AAA predicts a 0.7 increase in travel and a 0.6 increase for the state of Florida.
“Although leisure travel is forecast to make just modest gains from last year, it’s still a positive sign to see growth for the fourth year in a row,” said Brent Hubele, Vice President, AAA Travel, The Auto Club Group.
Most, about 90 percent, will travel by automobile. Gas prices are expected to continue to decline and are not expected to affect auto travelers. Thanksgiving 2011 travelers paid a national average of $3.32 for a gallon of regular unleaded. As of Sunday, Nov. 18, the national average was $3.42. Floridians were paying an average of $3.34, and around Tampa Bay, the average was $3.24.
The news isn’t as good for the airline industry with projections of a 1.7 percent decrease in holiday travelers – the second year in a row that less people have flown to Thanksgiving destinations.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving airfares are forecast to decrease, with the average lowest round-trip rate at $188 for the top 40 U.S. air routes, an 11 percent decrease from last year.
While projections call for a slight increase in the number of travelers, most are staying closer to home with an average round-trip estimated at 588 miles, compared to 706 miles last year. Southeast travelers are forecast to journey an average of 525 miles round-trip.
AAA projects that travelers will spend about 10 percent less than last year, $498 compared to $554. Travelers in the Southeast are expected to spend only an average of $275 during their holiday trip.
The busiest travel day most likely will be Wednesday with the majority returning home on Sunday.
Law enforcement will step up its efforts to keep the state’s roadways safe over the holiday. The Florida Highway Patrol typically assigns all sworn personnel to the job of patrol over a five-day period.
They’ll be on the lookout for impaired driving, speeding, following too close and aggressive driving. They’ll also be checking for seat belt use and make sure travelers are following child restraint laws.
FHP offers some safety tips for holiday travelers, including the following.
• Get plenty of rest before setting out on a long trip
• Observe and obey all speed limits
• Allow plenty of time to reach your destinations
• Drive sober, and only sober
• Buckle up!
• Eliminate distractions: Texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the stereo – these are all examples of things that can take your eyes off the road, which is exactly what you want to avoid.
• Prepare your vehicle: Check fluids for proper levels, i.e. oil, gas and windshield wipers, and ensure your tires have adequate pressure and are in good condition.
Call *FHP (*347) to report intoxicated or aggressive drivers or to request assistance if your vehicle breaks down. To request immediate emergency services, dial 911.
Tow to Go will be offering free rides to intoxicated drivers Thursday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 25. The service provided by AAA and Bud Light for travelers in Florida, Georgia and parts of Tennessee allows drivers who have had too much to drink and have no other way home to call toll-free 1-855-286-9246 to request a local ride within a 10-mile radius of a safe location. Drivers do not have to be a member of AAA to use the service. A tow truck will be dispatched for your vehicle and up to two people can catch a ride home in the truck. If a person is too intoxicated to be safety transported, AAA may call law enforcement for assistance.
AAA and Bud Light encourage people who plan to drink to designate a driver who will remain sober and make sure everyone gets home safely.
Tow to Go is a program of the AAA Travel Safety Foundation. Since 1998, Tow to Go has provided 20,000 intoxicated drivers with a ride home, keeping them off the roads where they could endanger other motorists.