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1 Million to hit N.C. Highways despite high gas prices

Posted November 19, 2007
Updated November 18, 2008

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— Gas prices are at near-record highs in North Carolina just as more than 1 million drivers plan to hit the roads this Thanksgiving holiday, the AAA said on Monday.

Gas averages $3.08 a gallon statewide, up 88 cents from Thanksgiving a year ago.

"This is the first time that we have seen gas prices tipping over $3 a gallon in November," Robert L. Darbelnet, national president and chief executive of the AAA, said in a statement.

Although gas prices usually drop as summer demand ebbs, oil prices flirting with $100 a barrel and low fuel stockpiles reversed that trend this year. Demand was also 0.6 percent higher in the four weeks ending Nov. 9 than it was a year earlier, the U.S. Energy Department said.

The higher prices, though, will not likely keep holiday travelers off the roads in the Carolinas, the AAA predicted.

The organization estimated 1.09 million North Carolinians and 533,400 South Carolinians will hit the highways – an increase of 2 percent over last year’s record Thanksgiving holiday travel. AAA surveys found 43 percent planned to travel with two to three other people, and 71 percent of parents would take along their children.

Some relief for travelers is in sight: Nationally, airfares are down approximately 7 percent, hotel room prices are flat or slightly lower, and car rental rates have dropped 12 percent.

AAA estimated that 163,000 North Carolinians will take to the skies, contributing to a 4 percent nationwide jump in passenger traffic.

“Record flight delays and congestion in airport terminals will require passengers to practice defensive flying,” David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, said in a statement.

“We suggest people fly direct when possible, pack appropriately, fly early in the day, use curbside check-in service, and program cell phone numbers for airlines, rental cars and others you may need to contact if there is a flight delay. Know where to complain.”

The expected increase comes in a year of record-low punctuality for the industry. Through September, more than 24 percent of flights arrived late, according to the Transportation Department – the worst on-time performance since data was first collected in 1995.

President George Bush has ordered steps to reduce air traffic congestion and long delays, including opening unused military airspace from Florida to Maine to create "a Thanksgiving express lane" for commercial airliners.

To help speed up road traffic in North Carolina, road construction will be suspended from 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20 until 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26.

The state Highway Patrol launched Operation Slowdown on Nov. 13 to target speeders and agressive driving on interstates and major four-lane highways. Troopers will be using helicopters in the crackdown.

In 2006, 11 people died on North Carolina roads, the lowest death totals for Thanksgiving in three years.

“I have instructed our troopers to crack down on speeders this holiday weekend; speed is the leading cause of fatal collisions on our highways,” Col. W. Fletcher Clay, commander of the Highway Patrol, said.

“Getting to your destination safely should be your No. 1 goal. Don’t try to cut off a few minutes of your drive time by speeding or driving aggressively. It’s just not worth it.”

Sobriety checkpoints will also be set up across the state.

Transportation workers warned of the dangers of driving while sleepy. Drivers suffering from fatigue were involved in 611 crashes statewide in 2006, causing three deaths and 307 injuries, according to DOT data.

“Driving on too little sleep puts the driver and everyone else on the roads and roadways at risk,” said Kevin Lacy, DOT’s state traffic engineer. “Whether heading out on a long trip or just going down the street, be sure you are well rested. It may save your life or someone else’s.”

Motorists can report problems to Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (*47) on cell phones. The toll‑free call goes directly to the nearest Highway Patrol communication center.

65 Comments

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  • Made In USA Nov 20, 2007

    I live within a quarter-mile from work. I have cut gas usage and water usage likewise. No waste, no spur of the moment breakage from my strict conserving. I finally had to put $20 of gas in my truck today. I was short only 3 days from having my last complete fillup lasting one month. That comes to about $10 a week. My water usage has been cut in half. I have saved money.

  • freespeech Nov 20, 2007

    As Exxon and a certain person from a village in Texas would say "Mission Accomplished."

  • mr_natural Nov 20, 2007

    Humble with much to be humble about.

  • seeingthru Nov 20, 2007

    NOT ME!!

  • whatelseisnew Nov 20, 2007

    68_polara

    Ah I go ya. She does know how to go on a rant. I don't like the gas prices any better than she does. It is pretty painful at the pumps these days. But if we get Government intervention, I sure hate to think what that will bring. One thing is for sure, we as a country have to move to some other means, given global consumption of oil this situation will only worsen in the future. Worse part of it is, once a viable solution comes about we are probably talking 10 or twenty years to get off of gasoline and on to something else.

  • Scare Crow Nov 20, 2007

    IS ANYONE INTERESTED IN LOWER GAS PRICES? If only 50% of drivers in the US, big rigs, taxis, etc. would stay home for two weeks (vacation)...prices would fall like rain. O

  • 68_polara Nov 20, 2007

    whatelseisnew, I'm sorry I should have clarified. I was agreeing with you about the "humble" lady's off the wall childish comments I mean if she would have even read all the comments the last thing one would called me is a communist.

  • dcatz Nov 20, 2007

    Speed doesn't cause fatal traffic collisions. Bad driving does. And I've seen drivers that are unsafe at any speed.

    Just another way for the government to make $$$.

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO Nov 20, 2007

    Huckleblaklady is just a redneck

  • whatelseisnew Nov 20, 2007

    68_polara I think you missed the thread of which person posted what. humbleblaklady called you a communist not me.

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