This increase brings holiday travel figures to within half a million of the decade high mark seen during the 2006/2007 season. The year-end holiday travel period is defined as Saturday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
AAA says 90% of travelers (84.4 million) will travel by automobile, representing 26.7% of the total U.S. population.
Travel volumes for the year-end holidays are generally very stable, AAA says. Only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than 5%.
"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. "Primary economic indicators all show modest improvement from last year and AAA is projecting an increase in the number of Americans stuffing their stockings with airline tickets and hotel reservations."
To help holiday travelers drive safely, the American Trucking Associations put out a list of safe driving tips from its Share the Road team for newspapers and other media outlets to distribute, from truck-specific ones warning about cutting in front of trucks and staying out of truck blind spots, to winter specific ones such as removing ice and snow from the vehicle and having an emergency kit.
"The holidays are a challenging time on the highways," said Share the Road Professional Driver Dion Saiz (FedEx Freight). "Between motorists visiting families or finishing up last minute shopping, there is nothing better than patience and safe driving practices behind the wheel," he added.
"Always buckle up," said Share the Road Professional Driver Dennis Martin (UPS Freight). "Weather can also be a factor during this time of year, so check weather conditions before you get in your vehicle," Martin added.