With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes travel and the Christmas travel period could be the busiest in six years, according to AAA.
AAA predicts 93.3 million Americans will hit the road in the coming days as part of the Christmas travel period. The AAA estimate is an increase of 1.6 percent over last year and just 400,000 people shy of the 2006 record.
"The year-end holiday season remains the least volatile of all travel holidays as Americans will not let economic conditions or high gas prices dictate if they go home for the holidays or kick off the New Year with a vacation," said AAA president and CEO Robert Darbelnet via press release.
Law enforcement officials across the nation are preparing for road congestion as motorists take to the highways for Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Georgia State Patrol troopers will be out in full force on the lookout for impaired drivers and other violations in an attempt to reduce the number of traffic accidents.
The Christmas travel period officially begins at 6 p.m. Friday and ends Christmas Day. The New Year's travel period begins Friday, Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. and ends Tuesday night, Jan. 1, 2013. Both holiday periods are 102 hours long.
Last year at Christmas, the GSP investigated 289 traffic crashes that resulted in 182 injuries and one fatality. Troopers arrested 139 people for driving under the influence during the 78 hours of the holiday period. During the New Year's holiday period, troopers investigated 296 traffic crashes in Georgia that resulted in 172 injuries and seven traffic deaths. During New Year's holiday period patrols, 262 people were arrested for driving under the influence.
Baldwin County Sheriff's Department official s urge everyone to use their wits when on the road and to not take chances with their lives and the lives of others.
"Slow down and pay attention to other drivers on the road," said Capt. Brad King. "Leave the house early enough to give yourself enough time to get to where you are going so that you won't be in a rush."
MPD and the sheriff's department officials remind everyone to always wear seat belts, make sure children are properly restrained, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, and don't operate a motor vehicle under the influence.