Holiday Travel Safety

A record breaking 4.7 million Carolinians plan to travel during the year-end holiday season this year, which is a 4.4% increase from last year and the most since AAA has been tracking holiday travel. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, December 22 through Tuesday, January 1.


For those traveling by car this year, they can expect to find year-wide lows at the gas pumps across the Carolinas. Gas prices averaged $2.28 mid-way through December in North Carolina this year, compared to last year’s $2.34. South Carolina pumps are averaging $2.05 compared to last year’s $2.20.


AAA Carolinas recommends that motorists avoid driving through major cities during peak travel times. The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less congested and motorists will have more time to reach their destinations safely. Traveling on the holiday itself (Christmas Day) often results in fewer cars on the road.


Additionally, AAA offers the following holiday road survival tips:

  • Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads.
  • Keep valuables in the trunk or covered storage area.
  • Have your roadside assistance contact information on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
  • Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times, in case of emergency.
  • Obey traffic safety laws: Wear your seatbelt. Don’t speed. Don’t drink and drive. Eliminate distractions behind the wheel, such as mobile devices. Disconnect and drive.
  • Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. Stop by a trusted repair shop for an inspection.


The holidays are a time for gathering and celebrating, but if you plan to do so with alcohol, never drink and drive. 


For those attending or hosting holiday parties this year:

  • Decide ahead of time whether you will be drinking or driving – you cannot do both.
  • Plan your ride home before the night begins – whether that be designating a sober driver or planning to use a taxi service/ride sharing service, such as Uber or Lyft.
  • Download a ride-sharing app for convenience. Play around with the app to familiarize yourself with it.
  • Be aware of those around you. If you see someone getting behind the wheel intoxicated, take their keys and assist them in finding a safe ride home.
  • If you are hosting a party with alcohol, be a responsible host. Allow guests to stay the night if need be or find them a safe ride home.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before your guests go home. Make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages as well.  
  • If you see a driver on the road who you suspect is impaired, pull over to a safe spot and call 911 – giving police a description of the vehicle.


More people on the roads means a higher chance for collisions. AAA encourages all motorists to disconnect and drive to arrive at their destinations safely. In North Carolina, there were 2.206 crashes resulting in five fatalities over the Christmas period and 690 crashes leading to eight fatalities over the New Year’s period, according to the NCDOT In South Carolina there were 886 collisions resulting in seven fatalities over the Christmas holiday weekend and 733 collisions resulting in five fatalities over the New Year’s holiday period, according to the SCDPS.


Beginning on December 14, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and law enforcement partners will begin the annual Sober or Slammer! Campaign, during which an increase in checkpoints and extra staff will monitor drunk and unsafe driving over the holidays. The North Carolina Highway Patrol will be in full-force monitoring for drunk driving as well with its Booze it and Lose it campaign.