Move Over Road Warriors, It’s Going to Get Crowded

By Eric G Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

News flash Road Warriors! In the words of President Elect Trump, the holiday driving period is going to be…Wait for it… HUGE ! (I’ve been waiting a whole primary to do that) Since that’s no surprise, it is newsworthy in the sense that this Christmas travel season will break all the records.

More than 103 million Americans—the most on record—are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, per AAA. This represents a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year. This comes despite one fewer travel day this holiday season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December 23 to Monday, January 2, 2017.

The contributing factors to the increased traffic this year is being driven by consumer spending, the labor market and rising wages, low gas prices and increased consumer confidence.

And to think that we all thought the economy was stagnant.

"'Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before," said AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney. "Rising incomes and continued low gas prices should make for a joyous holiday travel season."

The vast majority of travelers—93.6 million people—will take a holiday road trip. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains, and buses, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.

Those of you who are avoiding your family duties, you know who you are, are going to travel from the couch to the kitchen, to the bathroom, in a pair of sweat pants your favorite Van Halen T shirt, binge watching “Breaking Bad” and ordering Papa Johns.

Damn, that does sound good doesn’t it.

One particular component that always effects holiday traveling is the price of gas. AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $27 billion at the gas pumps so far this year compared to the same period last year. Today's national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.22, 22 cents more than the average price on New Year's Day 2016 ($2.00). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year's Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.

Now more than ever, professional drivers need to be vigilant and use common sense. Know what your limitations are and respect them. Before hitting the road, drivers should also get plenty of sleep to avoid driving drowsy. 

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who miss just one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash. For long trips, drivers should travel at times when normally awake, schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles, avoid heavy foods, travel with an alert passenger, take turns driving, and avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment.

Obviously, that’s for everyone, but a good reminder for our industry.

And hey, go easy on the eggnog…

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