aaa holiday travel 2016Small Increase from Last Year

Hamilton, NJ – AAA Mid-Atlantic projections indicate that almost 2.5 million New Jersey residents will travel 50 miles or more from home for Christmas and New Year’s, a very small increase of 0.3% over last year’s statistics. Nationwide, 103 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 1.5% from the 101.5 million people who traveled in 2015. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Friday, December 23, 2016 to Monday, January 2, 2017.

The increase in holiday travel this year is being driven by additional consumer spending, a result of improvements in the labor market and rising wages. Additionally, low gas prices and increased consumer optimism has prompted more Americans to set out on road trips or take to the skies to celebrate the holidays.

Projected Travel by transportation mode:

By Automobile:

    New Jersey - 2,471,542; or 90% of all travelers, up 0.3% compared to 2015
    National – 93.5 million or 90% of all travelers, up 1.5% over last year

By Air:

    New Jersey – 166,275; or 6.7% of all travelers, up 1.1% compared to 2015
    National – 6 million or 2.5% of all travelers, up 0.7% over last year

By Other Mode:

    New Jersey - 79,827; or 3.2% of all travelers down 0.7% compared to 2015
    National – 3.5 million or 3.4% of all travelers down 0.3% over last year

“Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will travel to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than last year,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Rising incomes and consumer confidence should make for a joyous holiday travel season.”

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Today’s New Jersey average gas price of $2.32 per gallon is still well below the $3 and $4 a gallon prices we were seeing in 2009 and 2010.  While New Jersey’s gas tax increased just over a month ago, the price per gallon doesn’t seem to have had too much of a negative impact on household finances.  

AAA expects to rescue 980,000 motorists during the holiday season

AAA expects to rescue nearly 980,000 motorists during the 11-day year-end holiday travel period, with the primary reasons being tows, dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Last year, AAA Mid-Atlantic rescued more than 56,000 motorists; with nearly 14,000 in New Jersey. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery, windshield wipers and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway. It’s also a good idea to pack a road kit before you leave. This kit can include items like - a sack of sand or cat litter, flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, windshield scraper and brush, emergency flares/reflectors, jumper cables, small shovel, blankets, extra gloves, hats, and scarves, drinking water and snacks, and a cell phone car charger.

AAA cautions against impaired driving this holiday season

With more than 90 percent of holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA urges everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in five licensed drivers (21%) who drink at least occasionally reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.

“As we celebrate the holiday season, AAA urges travelers to be cautious about their safety and the safety of everyone sharing the roadways,” said Noble. “Ninety-seven percent of licensed drivers consider it unacceptable to drive when they may have had too much to drink, yet there is an average of one alcohol-impaired driving death every 53 minutes.”