The busiest travel period of the Christmas season begins Friday, and many Alabamians are hitting the roads to be with friends and family.
Experts are predicting a record year-end travel volume for the 2017 holiday season, with the American Automobile Association (AAA) forecasting 107.3 million Americans taking various forms of transportation from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Jan. 1.
Some reports are predicting road trips may take as much as three times longer than normal and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is reminding travelers to have patience and drive responsibly this holiday season.
To ease holiday traffic congestion statewide and as an added safety precaution, ALDOT officials said no temporary lane closures will be made on Alabama interstates from noon, Friday, Dec. 22, through midnight, Monday, Dec. 25, and after noon, Friday, Dec. 29, through midnight Monday, Jan. 1.
“During the 2016 Christmas and New Year holidays, fatalities on Alabama roads were up 44 percent over the previous year,” said Allison Green, the Drive Safe Alabama coordinator with ALDOT. “Reversing that trend in 2017 is in the hand of drivers, as they make safety a priority while out enjoying their holiday celebrations.”
ALDOT’s three highway safety tips for the holidays:
- Drive sober.
In December 2016, there were 781 people in the United States that lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes.
- Always wear a seat belt, including passengers in front and rear seats.
The odds greatly favor those wearing a seat belt. The latest data shows that about 60 percent of Alabamians who die in vehicle crashes are not buckled up. In comparison, about 98 percent of people involved in vehicle crashes that are unharmed were reported to have been wearing their seat belts.
- Put away cell phones and other distractions.
Drivers are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if they are texting and driving.
For more safe driving tips visit the Drive Safe Alabama Facebook page.