Highways will be packed during holidays, AAA says

Transportation officials offer tips for safe travel over holidays

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than 103 million Americans will travel for the year-end holidays, according to a prediction from AAA. That's over 1.5 million travelers more than last year, and more than 4.8 million will be on the roadways.

With all those drivers taking to the highways, officials with the Regional Transportation Management Center offered some last-minute travel advice.

"It helps reduce stress knowing what's out on the road before you leave home, that always makes a safer driver,” said Chris Patton with the Florida Department of Transportation.

One good resource to use when planning a trip is the Florida 511 System, run by the Department of Transportation. Drivers can use the website, app or call for an automated update.

"You can sign up, put in a custom route, and then we'll email or text you based on if there's any incidents on that route,” Patton said.

It can also give drivers traffic updates while they're driving.

The map shows delays on major roadways by using color codes: red is not very good, orange is moderate, green is good.

Drivers can also get a live look at DOT cameras. 

According to the Waze driving app, the worst time to drive is 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, because that's when holiday traffic meets rush-hour traffic and drivers won't get far fast. A good tip is to get on the road before 11 a.m. Friday.

And drive carefully. In 2014, Waze users reported 19.78 percent more accidents on the 23rd, more than any other holiday travel day.

Dec. 24 will have drivers in a traffic jam starting at noon.

And Christmas evening will most likely be one of the worst driving days of the year, since it falls on a Sunday and many drivers will probably try to rush home to get back to work.

The absolute worst time to be on the road is  2-6 p.m Sunday, which is the peak hours of the worst day.

If drivers find themselves in car trouble, the Road Rangers will also be on patrol to help out.

"Anything from an accident to disabled vehicles, our goal is to keep traffic flowing,” Road Ranger Cody Parham said.

They want other drivers to be courteous when they see broken down vehicles, troopers or road rangers assisting other drivers. Remember, it's the law to move over for emergency vehicles.

"We have families and we have kids as well as individuals that we're helping and we all want to get home safe,” Parhma said.

Drivers who need help on the roads can dial *FHP for assistance.

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