For those who plan to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a few more cars on the road compared to last year may be noticed.
The holiday travel volume in South Carolina is expected to increase by 1 percent this year, thanks to the dramatic drop in gasoline prices, AAA Carolinas announced on Tuesday.
More than 617,000 South Carolinians are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home; about 90 percent of those will drive, an increase of about 5,400 travelers over last year, AAA said in a statement.
Thanksgiving is typically one of the most dangerous annual holidays for travel, and the congestion is caused by the high number of highway vacationers. The official holiday travel period begins at 6 p.m. today and ends at midnight on Sunday.
Gas prices in South Carolina have dropped dramatically in the past two months, with the average price sitting at $3.13 on Tuesday, down 50 cents since peaking in mid-September at $3.63. South Carolinians are paying two cents less for a gallon of gas compared to last Thanksgiving, when they paid $3.14.
In Aiken on Tuesday, the lowest price for gas was $2.91 at Kroger on Whiskey Road, Greg’s Gas Plus on Richland Avenue and Sprint on East Pine Log Road. In North Augusta, it was $2.97 at Greg’s Gas Plus on Edgefield Road, followed by $2.98 at RaceWay on Jefferson Davis Highway.
South Carolina currently has the second-lowest average gas price in the country, behind Missouri which sits at $3.08 per gallon.
Although Hurricane Sandy hasn’t affected gas prices in South Carolina, motorists traveling to the Northeast can expect to pay more, particularly in New York, which currently has the most expensive gas in the United States at $3.93 per gallon, according to the statement. South Carolina motorists can also expect to pay more for gas in the bordering states of North Carolina and Georgia, where the average price for gas sits at $3.31 and $3.26, respectively.
No significant construction delays along South Carolina interstates are expected, as the state Department of Transportation requires contractors to keep all lanes open during heavy travel holidays.
According to the S.C. Highway Patrol, 11 people died during the Thanksgiving weekend last year.
If you plan to take to the roads, the Highway Patrol suggests taking frequent breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. Also, keep a safe driving distance (at least three seconds behind the car in front of you).
Be aware of work zones, of law enforcement assisting motorists and pay attention to Move Over Laws. Also, report aggressive drivers or drivers exhibiting signs of impairment by calling *HP.
The Highway Patrol also recommends refraining from travel right after a large meal, when you might be more prone to fatigue behind the wheel.
The Aiken Department of Public Safety encourages drivers to plan ahead, and know your route. Also, make sure family and friends know where you are and how to reach you.
Lastly, conduct a pre-trip vehicle inspection, paying close attention to the tires, belts, hoses, fluid levels, head and tail lights and windshield wipers.
To estimate fuel costs, travelers can visit www.fuelcostcalculator.com to input a starting city, destination and the make and model of their vehicle.