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Record numbers of travelers will fill the roads and skies this holiday season

December 18, 2018

Expect long lines and traffic jams as an especially busy holiday season begins in Idaho.

New projections from AAA Idaho estimate that a record 112 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles during this holiday season, and among them will be 567,000 Idahoans.

The recent drop in gas prices may have contributed to the spike this season. Idaho gas prices are 30 cents lower than they were in November and the national average is down 40 cents over the same time period. Idaho’s population growth also has contributed to the rising number of holiday travelers in the state.

More than 91 percent of those travelers will be driving this December, leading many to warn about the dangers facing drivers on Idaho’s roads. The Idaho Department of Transportation is asking drivers to leave themselves extra time and check with 511 for live updates on road conditions.

AAA Idaho Spokesman Matthew Conde said the agency expects a spike in the number of roadside assistance calls it receives around the holidays and asks drivers to take care of their cars ahead of time if they can.

“In the meantime, we want people to be safe and comfortable if they’re waiting for a response,” Conde said.

In addition to the extra road travelers, 34,000 Idahoans are expected to take a flight this holiday season. Idaho Falls Regional Airport has scheduled six more flights than normal during the week surrounding Christmas and Airport Director Rick Cloutier said several of those extra flights already are sold out.

“We definitely had more demand than in years past. There are more seats available because of the extra flights but there’s also more we have booked already,” Cloutier said.

According to AAA, Saturday and Sunday will be the busiest days for airport travel this season and Christmas Eve will be relatively quieter.

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