The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


December 20, 2013

Be safe over most-traveled holiday

TARBORO — CHARLOTTE —  A record number of North Carolinians — 2,826,500 — will travel 50 miles or more for the Christmas/New Year's holiday, according to AAA Carolinas.

Travel volume represents an increase of 48,500 total travelers compared to last year. An estimated 2,559,700, or 90.5 percent of total travelers, plan to drive to their destination.

The 12-day Christmas/New Year's travel holiday is defined as Saturday, Dec. 21, through Wednesday, Jan. 1, which is one day longer than the travel period last year. The year-end holiday ranges from 10 to 13 days, and volume often increases relative to length.

"As the longest holiday travel period of the year, the Christmas/New Year's holiday is also one of the deadliest," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Drivers should buckle up and avoid drinking and driving, speeding and texting behind the wheel."

Last year, 37 people died on North Carolina roads during the year-end holiday travel period — 38 percent of those involved a drunk driver and 43 percent of those who died weren't wearing a seat belt.

North Carolina gas prices currently average $3.23 — the same price as a year ago. After falling to a year-low of $3.19 on Nov. 14, prices rose to $3.33 on Nov. 27, but have fallen steadily since then. Prices are expected to continue the downward trend through the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.

Motorists can find the cheapest gasoline in North Carolina in High Point at $3.18 a gallon and the most expensive gas in Boone at $3.30. Drivers will enjoy lower prices in South Carolina at $3.07, Tennessee at $3.06, Virginia at $3.15 and Georgia at $3.17.

An estimated 155,200 North Carolinians will fly to their destinations, accounting for 5.5 percent of travelers, and 111,600 or 4 percent will use another mode of transportation, such as train, bus or boat.

Airfares are down 3% from a year ago, averaging $199 for the top 40 U.S. routes. However, travelers will see higher car rental rates, up 13% to $63 per day compared to $55 per day last year.

Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond hotels average $138, down 3% from last year, while AAA Two Diamond hotels average $102, up 1% from a year ago.

North Carolina travelers are expected to log an average trip of 965 miles from home, a significant increase from 765 miles last year.

Drunk driving is always a major problem during this travel period with holiday parties often held between Christmas and New Year's. Drivers are advised to secure a designated driver or call a cab if they are planning to consume alcohol.

North Carolina's "Booze It & Lose It" campaign, which runs Dec. 13 through Jan. 5, includes checkpoints and stepped-up patrols to remove impaired drivers from North Carolina roads.

After 11 months, traffic fatalities are trending sharply downward this year in both North and South Carolina, as well as nationally.

As of Dec. 1, North Carolina saw a 7.8% drop year-to-date from 1,227 traffic deaths to 1,115, including a decline of 118 alcohol-involved traffic deaths. During the same 11 months, South Carolina's fatal crashes declined 11.9% from 787 to 695, and alcohol-related fatalities dropped more than 35%.

Traffic safety officials in both states credit the drop to more intense patrolling of high-crash corridors; checkpoints and crackdowns on drunk drivers, unbuckled drivers and passengers; stricter speed-limit enforcement; and a decline in vehicle miles traveled.

During the holiday period, unexpected weather or vehicle problems may leave motorists stranded this holiday season and inclement weather is possible. AAA Carolinas recommends keeping an emergency kit in your car that includes:

Mobile phone and car charger

Blankets and flashlight with extra batteries

A first aid kit

Drinking water and non-perishable snacks

Small shovel and sack of sand or cat litter for traction

Windshield scraper

Battery booster cables

Plastic emergency triangle reflectors

North Carolina suspends most construction projects during the holiday travel period, with these exceptions:

U.S. 158 on Elizabeth Street in downtown Elizabeth City will remain in its two lane, two-way configuration through the holiday.

The U.S. 158 Westbound Wright Memorial Bridge over the Currituck Sound is closed for deck repair. All traffic is in a two-lane, two-way pattern on the eastbound bridge and will remain in this pattern until May 2014.

U.S. 13, just north of Windsor, is closed with a local detour route. The detour adds five minutes of travel time.

I-440, in Wake County, between the I-40/I-440 split and US 64/264 will be reduced from six lanes to four lanes by Dec. 20.

I-73 in Guilford County is reduced to two lanes in each direction between I-40 and I-85 for a new interchange with High Point Road.

For the latest on construction delays, up-to-date traffic information related to closed travel lanes, accidents or expected congestion due to special events, go to the North Carolina Department of Transportation website, HYPERLINK "", and click on Travel & Maps and then on the Traveler Information Management System.

Survey data is taken from AAA's Leisure Travel Index, AAA/HIS Global Insight holiday travel forecast and AAA Carolinas data.

To estimate fuel costs, travelers can go to HYPERLINK "" to input starting city, destination, and the make and model of their car.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find updated gas prices, view nearby member discounts and access AAA Roadside Assistance.


Text Only
  • Bones-final-cover.jpg Local librarian pens first novel

    Roman Leary, director at Edgecombe County Memorial Library, has written his first novel – “Six Days of the Dragon.”

    March 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Golden LivingCenter ranked among nation's best

    Golden LivingCenter – Tarboro has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report in its Best Nursing Homes Rankings for 2014.

    March 19, 2014

  • Spaghetti dinner to raise money for animal welfare organization

    A spaghetti dinner and silent auction from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Calvary Episcopal Church Memorial Hall will raise money for a local animal welfare organization – Tarboro Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR) and Feline Friends.

    February 24, 2014

  • Keith-Parker.jpg Parker named top social studies teacher

    Keith Parker, teacher at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, was recognized as Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year Thursday at the North Carolina Council of Social Studies (NCCSS) Conference at Greensboro’s Koury Center.

    February 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Be wary of scams in storm's aftermath

    With Gov. Pat McCroy declaring a state of emergency Tuesday due to weather, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper is also warning citizens to be on the lookout for price gauging and roving scammers seeking to take advantage of consumers who need help removing trees that are brought down by the storm.

    February 13, 2014

  • Ugandan-Thunder.jpg FBC raising money to build Ugandan high school

    First Baptist Church of Tarboro is raising money to build a high school for orphans in Lugazi, Uganda. Children from 14 orphanages fed by the Christian organization Pennies for Posho will have the opportunity to attend the high school.

    January 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pink poodle getting desired response

    The story published in Jan. 8 edition of The Daily Southerner about an owner dying her poodle pink to raise funds for surgery for her lame cocker terrier touched the heart of Tarboro resident Paula Mozingo.

    January 16, 2014

  • EAGLE-SCOUT.jpg Wooten earns Eagle Scout award

    William Thomas Wooten, Jr. of Williamsburg Drive, Tarboro has earned the highest advancement award the Boy Scouts of America offers to Scouts, the Eagle Scout Award.

    January 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • craig-bickhardt.jpg Bickhardt playing at St. Anne's Chapel

    Craig Bickhardt, whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, BB King, Ray Charles, Tony Rice, Alison Krauss, David Wilcox, Martina McBride, the Judds, Pam Tillis and about 100 others, will appear live at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Anne’s Chapel.

    January 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local shoppers talk spending on Christmas presents

    It’s the day after Christmas … Santa has made his visits and all the presents have been unwrapped. The wallets and bank accounts of Americans are a little bit emptier. Some are facing the realization they spent ‘way too much money, while others stuck to their budgets.

    December 26, 2013