Local News

Travelers Prepare To Escape For The Holiday Season

Posted December 22, 1999

— Thousands of Americans are hitting the road and taking to the air on their way to visit family and friends for the holidays.

However, more people this year have to be cautious on both the roads and the airports.

A new study ranks North Carolina as one of the most dangerous places to be when it comes to sharing the road with trucks.

Belinda Tohn and her family are headed to Georgia for the holidays. She has her routine down when she sees the big tractor-trailers on the road.

"I kinda slow down and signal them to go around because they'll go ahead on and get around me," Tohn said. "I don't have to worry about them anymore so they get out of my way."

North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation for truck-related deaths.

One million North Carolinians are expected to drive out of town for the holiday weekend. In addition to watching their speed, they will also be watching the trucks.

"My car is so small," said Manisha Surati, a traveler. "It's just so small against those big trucks that it's going to get squashed."

In addition to worrying about crashes, many drivers will also be worried about car breakdowns. That is why cars are piling up at local mechanic shops, just to make sure they are ready to go.

"The first thing you need to do is check your tires and check all your fluids," said Craig Stallings, a mechanic. "You need to make sure your belts and hoses are OK. A lot of time you will have a belt or hose that's bad or something you've never seen before."

Buckling up and lots of sleep will also help if you encounter a problem with your car or if you encounter construction delays.

Construction will also make driving difficult on four major roads in the state.

Only one lane will be open in each direction on Interstate 40 in Buncombe County, I-40 between Morganton and Marion, U.S. Highway 74 west of Rockingham and about a mile of U.S. Highway 421 in Chatham and Lee counties.

People also filled up the parking lots at RDU International Airport.

Despite threats of possiblenational terrorism during the holiday season,thousands of people in the Triangle packed their bags and flew out on Thursday.

The Air Transport Association says most planes are flying 80 percent full.

"I am going home today after a lovely stay in North Carolina," said Ilana Lebert. "I'm going to have some vacation for school, and I am excited about that."

Airport authorities say 300,000 people will travel through the airport between now and January 3.


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