More than 574,000 South Carolina residents are expected to hit the roads for the Thanksgiving holiday, driving about 800 miles and spending about $500 for the round trip, according to the AAA of the Carolinas.
Drivers in South Carolina should find gas prices around $2.68 a gallon - second lowest in the nation - with no road construction and plenty of law enforcement officers on the highways.
The state Highway Patrol has increased the number of troopers on patrol, and they are looking for drivers who are drunk, speeding or driving erratically, such as following too closely or changing lanes frequently.
Troopers also will be looking for seat-belt violations.
Last year, there were nine fatalities in the state over the five-day holiday period. There were no fatal accidents in York, Chester or Lancaster counties.
"We're looking for all the drivers who choose to make the roads more dangerous than they are," said Cpl. Bryan McDougald of the state Highway Patrol. "We want to take the reckless driving behavior off the road."
While more people are traveling by air or driving for the holiday, the projected number is below the all-time high of 58.6 million who traveled nationally in 2005. This year, about 42.2 million are expected to travel over the holidays.
In South Carolina, this year's estimate represents an 11 percent increase over last year. In 2005, about 707,000 state residents traveled for the holidays, according to the AAA.
"The numbers are up from last year, but there still is a slow recovery in travel because of the recession," said Brenda Byrnes, manager of public relations for AAA Carolinas.
Only 6 percent of state residents will fly for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Carolinas. In 2000, almost 13 percent of state residents flew for the holidays.
"Groping guards, squished seats and frivolous fees have pushed more and more travelers away from the airways and the highways this year," Dave Parson, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, said in a release.
Holiday travel tips
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are when you can expect the most traffic. Consider changing your travel dates if you have any flexibility.
Drivers should take a break every two hours or 150 miles, getting out of the vehicles and stretching.
On long trips, switch drivers regularly, preferably with someone who has been sitting the back seat.
Add about 15 minutes to every hour the trip typically takes to drive because of increased traffic.
Be aware of the sedating effects of a heavy meal. It is best to avoid a long trip right after your Thanksgiving meal. If you have to travel, try to get in a nap first.
Be prepared for roadway emergencies by having a first-aid kit, flashlight, blankets, drinking water and snacks, flares, jumper cables and an ice scraper.
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave.
If your vehicle breaks down on the roadway or you have a minor collision, move your vehicle from the flow of traffic and off the roadway, if at all possible.
For air travel, arrive at least two hours before departure to clear security and remember the 3-1-1 rule: only 3 ounces or less of liquids or gels that must be carried in a 1-quart zip-lock bag in the one bag to be carried on the plane.
Source: AAA Carolinas, state Highway Patrol