1.2 Million Have Holiday Travel Plans, says AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ — An estimated 1.2 million Michigan residents will travel during the upcoming Christmas/New Year’s holiday, confirms AAA’s latest travel survey. That’s a 20-percent increase over last year, when 1 million travelers were predicted.

More travelers will take a car, truck or van to their final destinations this year (76 percent vs. 68 percent last year), while fewer will go by air (25 percent vs. 32 percent last year).

“The leisure travel market is in a period of transition in Michigan,” said Claire Lockley, assistant vice president Travel Product Management for The Auto Club Group (ACG). “The recent hurricanes and overall economic picture have caused many consumers to reevaluate their winter travel activity.”

According to AAA Michigan’s holiday travel survey, more than half of those traveling (57 percent) will be traveling outside of Michigan during the upcoming Christmas holiday, up slightly from 53 percent in 2004.

Based on projected requests for TripTik(R) routings, the most popular driving destinations outside Michigan this winter are:

1) Orlando, Florida
2) Atlanta, Georgia*
3) Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
4) Nashville, Tennessee
5) Indianapolis, Indiana*

Other survey findings:

* The average Christmas vacation will last 5 days and consist of 2-3 travelers. The cost will average $938.

* Eighty percent of Christmas travelers will visit relatives.

* Relative’s homes (55 percent) and hotels, motels or resorts (18 percent) will be the accommodations of choice during the 2005 Christmas holiday.

Michigan motorists can expect to pay about 34.6 cents more for a gallon of gas this year ($2.192 as of December 9), compared with last year at this time.

The official 78-hour Christmas holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, December 23 and runs to 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 26. The 2005-2006 New Year holiday period (also 78 hours) begins at 6 p.m. Friday, December 30 and runs to 11:59 p.m. Monday, January 2, 2006.

During last year’s 54-hour Christmas holiday period, there were three traffic fatalities reported by the Michigan State Police. Of the three fatal crashes, one (33.3 percent) involved alcohol. Restraints were not used by one of the two victims who had them available (50 percent).

During last year’s 54-hour New Year holiday period, six people died in six fatal traffic crashes. Of the six fatal crashes, four (66.67 percent) involved alcohol. Restraints were not used by two of the six victims who had them available.

Michigan’s safety belt law requires that the driver and all front seat passengers be buckled, children under the age of four must be in a child safety seat, preferably in the back seat, and children up to age 16 must be restrained no matter where they’re riding. AAA Michigan urges motorists to allow extra time, buckle safety belts, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol (for an online list of nonalcoholic drink recipes, visit http://www.aaa.com/ ).

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