Cheaper gas prices expected to fuel more Thanksgiving holiday travel this year

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Cheaper gas prices will fuel more Thanksgiving holiday travel this year, according to AAA Carolinas.

A total of 1.3 million North Carolinians should travel 50 miles or more from home. Of those travelers, 1.2 million are expected to drive, which is about 48,600 more than Thanksgiving holiday 2013, reported Winston-Salem Journal. 

AAA Carolinas defines the holiday as today through Sunday.

“Lower prices at the pump have encouraged more people to hit the road this Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with their family and friends,” said David E. Parsons, president and chief executive of AAA Carolinas.

Gas prices have been dropping for the past two months. In the Triad, the average price of unleaded gas was $2.72 a gallon on Tuesday, down 23 cents from $2.95 a month ago and down 57 cents from $3.29 a year ago. Statewide, the average price of gas was $2.75 a gallon on Tuesday, compared with $2.98 a month ago and $3.32 a year ago.

On Tuesday, the highest average price a gallon of unleaded gas was in Asheville at $2.90; the least expensive average price was in the Charlotte-Gastonia area at $2.71.

AAA Carolinas expects gas prices to continue to decline into 2015 because of an abundance of oil and the fact that demand is down.

“Right now, it looks good,” Tiffany Wright, a spokeswoman for AAA Carolinas said. “Enjoy the windfall.”

Despite a small increase in airfares, up 1 percent from last year, more travelers will be flying this year. That’s about 92,700 or 7 percent of all travelers. The busiest departure date for air travel was Tuesday.

An estimated 40,300, or 3 percent, of all travelers will use other modes of transportation such as train, bus or boat.

The N.C. Highway Patrol is joining with other state and local law enforcement agencies from across the country by participating in the I-40 Challenge from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today and again from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

The N.C. Department of Transportation also encouraged motorists to buckle up, as the Thanksgiving “Click It or Ticket” enforcement campaign will run through Sunday, as well.

The DOT is suspending most construction projects along interstate, N.C. and U.S. routes. The projects will resume at 9 a.m. Monday, with eight exceptions, including one in Guilford County.

Interstate 73 in Greensboro will be reduced to two lanes in each direction between Interstate 40 and Interstate 85 for a new interchange at High Point Road.