Record amount of traffic expected during 2019 holiday season
Get ready to sit in traffic. AAA predicts a robust year-end holiday travel period with more people than ever on record. Shani Jarvis, assistant manager of public affairs for AAA Northeast, said 115.6 million Americans, including 2.8 million New Jerseyans, plan to travel this holiday season from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. This is the most in nearly 20 years when AAA began tracking holiday travel.
She said New Jersey travel this year is a 3.9% increase from 2018 in which 2.7 million people traveled in New Jersey.
Jarvis credits the increase in New Jersey travel to historically low unemployment levels, notable improvements in disposable income, household net worth. Plus kids are out of school for an extended period of time so people are looking to take this opportunity to travel and get in some last minute vacation time before 2019 ends.
Driving remains the most popular mode of travel in New Jersey. Jarvis said 2.5 of the 2.8 million New Jerseyans plan to travel by car. That's 90% of all travelers and a 3.6% increase from 2018.
She also said AAA is expecting 185,000 of travelers or 6.6% of New Jersey travelers to fly. That's a 37% increase from a year ago. About 86,000 Jersey residents or 3.1% of travelers will travel by train, bus or boat, a 2.3% hike from 2018.
Gas prices are also expected to drop in time for the holidays.
"We're seeing lower prices now than they were earlier this month, but we are seeing prices that are higher than last year," said Jarvis. So, today the average price for a gallon of regular gas is $2.55. While that's 11 cents more than what we were paying for last year when it was $2.44, it is about five cents cheaper than a month ago around Thanksgiving.
Dead batteries, lockouts and flat tires are the leading causes of car trouble, said Jarvis. So be sure to get the car checked out completely before starting the holiday journey. One thing AAA really wants to impress upon motorists is that if a driver sees flashing lights on the side of the road, slow down. It's the law. Provide those workers with an empty travel line.
"Just like you want you to go home for the holidays, they want to go home for the holidays," said Jarvis.