Holiday travel to increase this year mostly by automobile
Service check prior to traveling can ensure safer tripby J. Werner
Nov 19, 2012
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas -- The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to have 25 percent of the nation’s population traveling to visit relatives or friends as reported by CNN Headline News Monday morning, November 19. They reported that 90 percent will do so by automobile, which defies the Pareto Effect of the 80/20 rule. As incredible as these numbers seem, the highways have always had a high-traffic pattern during this period.
AAA projects 43.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home, a .07 percent increase over last year. It is estimated that those traveling by automobile will total 39.1 million, a .06 percent increase over the 38.9 million who traveled by car last year. This marks the fourth consecutive year that the number has risen since 2008.
This means that public safety personnel will be busier, ensuring the safety of the community’s streets and the state’s highways.
“We’ve had a busy wave of activity just recently, but have taken measures to get it in check,” said Lt. Dan Norris, spokesperson for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, at The Woodlands Lighting of the Doves event this past Saturday. “Now we’re gearing up for the holiday weekend.”
Average travel spending is expected to drop 10 percent to $498; the 2011 average was $544. Although historically high gas prices are cited as a reason for the spending downturn, the national average has actually dropped nearly 40 cents per gallon since early October, and is projected to drop through the end of the year. The economic research and forecast was compiled by the joint venture of AAA and HIS Global Insight which both analyze travel trends. As expected, the areas severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy will see travel numbers drastically lower than these.
Numerous phone and hand-held device apps using GPS navigation are available to assist travelers with mapping out the most fuel-efficient routes to conserve gas and save money. The money saved would be best spent ensuring that the automobile is in good working condition before putting it on the highway.
“If you’re going to use your own automobile, an oil change is essential,” said Tim Carroll, Manager of Express Lube in the Panther Creek Shopping Center. “An oil change comes complete with a multi-point inspection of fluids, belts, hoses, filters, tire pressure, and numerous other essential checks. It can prevent an expensive repair on the trip,” said Carroll.
If technicians find a serious automotive issue, renting a car would be a safer alternative even though auto rental rates will be up 27 percent over last year, from $37 to $47.
The travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 25; with Wednesday being the busiest travel day.
“The last two years the day before Thanksgiving has been our busiest day,” said Carroll, “which means people are getting out on the highway immediately after pulling out of our bays,” added Carroll. “It would be better to come in a day or two earlier allowing the new oil to circulate in the car’s system before taking a long road trip.” To ensure a safe trip and return, with the least amount of traffic and stress, plan accordingly. It might be best not to travel on the busiest days.
DPS troopers, along with many law enforcement agencies, will be patrolling throughout the holiday weekend to promote safety. During Thanksgiving weekend in 2011, DPS troopers arrested 393 individuals for driving while intoxicated, issued more than 7,400 speeding citations and issued more than 900 safety restraint citations.
“Putting safety first increases your chances of arriving at your Thanksgiving destination safe and sound,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Holiday travel can provide challenges, such as drunk drivers on the roads, added distractions, people rushing to destinations and fatigued driving. These are all factors that could lead to tragedy on the roadways, so we encourage everyone to drive responsibly during the holiday season.”
DPS offers the following tips for safe travel during the Thanksgiving holiday:
• Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before your trip begins.
• Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
• Buckle up everyone in the vehicle – it's the law.
• Eliminate distractions, and don't text while driving.
• Slow down – especially in bad weather, construction areas and heavy traffic.
• Don't drive fatigued.
• Don't drink and drive. Designate a driver or take a cab.
If you plan on going to a local pub consider using the shuttle system subsidized by the Montgomery County Bar Owners Alliance in conjunction with Walt Inc., to ensure that you arrive home safely. For more information about this initiative go to Walt Inc. Shuttle Service.
During this holiday of giving thanks, Woodlands Online is thankful to The Woodlands for their support of our community online service. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe one.