Number of holiday travelers, dangers on roadways increasing

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, Dec. 21, 2012

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- "There's a lot of crazy drivers out there," said Rachel Niske, a daughter traveling home with her father.

If you think traffic is bad now, it's about to get worse.

"The kids got out of school today in several counties. In Aiken County and a couple of the others, so tomorrow morning everybody will get an early start, and roads will be heavy," said South Carolina Rest Stop Attendant Maria Medina.

The South Carolina rest stop saw about 200 people come through today, but they're expecting a lot more on Saturday.

"Five to six times that amount tomorrow, so you're looking at about a thousand people tomorrow who will come through," Medina said.

"I'm coming from Dublin, Ga. Picking up my mom and taking her back home for Christmas to my house in Winchester, Va.," said traveler Jim Horton.

A 12-hour drive with everyone else who had the same idea.

AAA expects 1.2 million South Carolina drivers will hit the road this year and 2.4 million will hit the road from Georgia.

With increased travelers comes increased danger.

"Coming down on Interstate 81 there was a tanker turned over. We were in traffic for about an hour and 15 minutes," Horton said.

Travel experts tell us traffic fatalities triple over the next week and a half.

Their advice? Watch your speed, be patient in traffic and be well rested before getting in the car.

"We just ask people to slow down, be careful, be respectful of one another and look out for each other," Medina said.

"A lot going on. A lot of people on the road that shouldn't be on the road," Horton said.

Many drivers say there's only one thing that makes battling the roads worth it.

"Family. Having family together," Horton said.

"Being Christmas, it's always about getting family together and sharing and making memories and talking and eating and the travel is just all part of it," father Glenn Niske said.

Here in the South, we don't get much winter weather, but if you're heading North, we're on your side with some advice:
- Make sure all your tires are properly inflated.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid a gas line freeze
- Avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy, and snowy weather
- Never use cruise control when driving on a slippery surface, whether it's rain, ice or sand

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