COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's official. The national average for regular unleaded is over the three dollar mark, but that's not stopping millions of South Carolinians from hitting the roads.
AAA says this holiday season is going to be the busiest in South Carolina history. Millions of travelers are taking to the roadways, and all are expected to drive at least 50 miles.
AAA reports gas prices in South Carolina are up more than 40 cents from last Christmas and up 13 cents from this Thanksgiving. While the national average price of gas is at $3.01 a gallon, South Carolina's average is $2.84. So why are so many travelers taking to the roadways instead of the skies? "Convenience," says one driver, "I didn't want to rent a car. I wanted to have flexibility."
Travelers say all the added cars on the road are a concern when traveling with family. "(We) take our time and leave early," says traveler Todd Walters, "Not be in a hurry. Make sure we have blankets in case we brake down on the side of the road."
State troopers say congestion will be higher in certain areas, so drivers need to be more alert. "In the next 48 hours, you can expect congestion towards malls and outlets," states SC State Trooper Bob Beres, "Show patience when you get in the areas. Everyone is getting last minute shopping done."
Local mechanics say besides being a defensive driver, you need to make sure your car is up to speed when making long trips. "Make sure your belts and hoses are in good condition," says mechanic Klaus Wickizer. "Make sure your anti-freeze is the proper temperature, at least -20 degrees."
Besides all the extra traffic, troopers say congestion isn't all you should be looking out for. "We've arrested almost 15,000 people in SC from drinking and driving," claims Trooper Beres, "If you're going to parties, plan on how you can get home before you leave."
Some other tips to remember are taking frequent breaks when traveling long distances, and be sure to pack blankets and snacks just in case your car breaks down.