A record number of vehicles and a weather front are expected across Southern California over the holiday, making for difficult driving conditions.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting an all-time record for Christmas/New Year's holiday travel, with a 1.8 percent increase over 2011 in the number of Southland residents taking trips of 50 miles or more. Nearly 7.3 million Southern Californians are expected to travel through the end of the year.
Eighty-eight percent of travelers, or 6.5 million Southern Californians, will travel by car to their destinations – a 1.4 percent increase from last year. More than 590,000 local residents are expected to fly, which is a 4.4 percent increase over 2011, and 248,000 are expected to go by other means.
Statewide, 11.7 million are expected to take holiday trips (also a 1.8 percent increase), with 10.4 million driving (up 1.4 percent), 950,000 going by air (4.4 percent increase), and 400,000 going by bus, train, ship, RV or other mode (up 1.4 percent). Nationally, travel is projected to increase by 1.6 percent over last year’s Christmas-New Year holiday period, with 93.2 million expected to make holiday getaways.
“As a result of the improving economy, AAA is projecting an increase in travelers’ budgets as well as in the number of travelers,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Travelers on the West Coast will be spending a projected average of more than $1,000 per household on their end-of-year holiday trips, which is an increase of nearly six percent over 2011. Spending on lodging, food and recreation/entertainment is expected to increase compared to last year.”
The most popular destinations for Southern Californians over this Christmas-New Year holiday, according to a poll of Auto Club AAA Travel agents, are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Francisco
3) San Diego
4) Grand Canyon
5) Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Monterey)
Gas prices have been dropping in Southern California for more than two months, and local drivers are probably paying less to fuel up for their holiday trips than they did in 2011.
To ensure your holiday travels are safe, check your route with Caltrans before you hit the road. Click here for current road conditions: http://www.caltrans.ca.gov/. Want to know where the traffic is, in real time? Click here.
The Auto Club recommends that drivers pack the following items in their vehicle for a winter driving emergency kit so they will be prepared for their holiday trips:
- Blankets for each person in the car
- Cell Phone (charged and in vehicle)
- Small shovel for digging around tires if stuck
- First aid kit
- Tire chains and appropriate tools if traveling through areas where snow is possible
- Tire pressure gauge
- Fire extinguisher
- Flares, warning triangles or reflectors
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Heavy gloves, jacket, and hat for each person
- Jack for tire changing
- Jumper cables
- Paper towel, rags
- Quart of oil and coolant (specific to your vehicle)
- Reflective sun shade which can reflect sunlight into the vehicle to generate heat
- Water and food