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Heavy travel season expected for holidays
A line of cars forming at a gas station, the California Highway Patrol at maximum enforcement and pedestrians rushing through airports to catch their flights must only be signs of one thing: Christmas is coming.
This year, closing in on Dec. 25 means that the busiest Christmas travel season in six years is about to hit the US, according to The Associated Press.
The American Automobile Association estimates that one in four Americans will be driving long distances for Christmas and New Year's.
Yuba City resident Ricardo Martinez said he's already seen an increase in traffic.
"It slowed down after Thanksgiving, but it's starting to pick up again," he said.
Martinez, 19, has lived in Yuba City all his life. He said the best way to get through the holiday traffic is to learn to drive defensively.
According to The Associated Press, AAA is predicting that 93.3 million Americans — about 1.6 percent more than last year — will be on the road during the Christmas season. Additionally, about 90.5 percent of holiday travelers will be driving at least 50 miles between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1.
If AAA is correct, that will be just 400,000 people short of the 2006 record.
However, not everyone has seen an increase in traffic. Several hotels in the Yuba-Sutter area said that business so far has been slow or moderate.
Kristen Fall, who commutes to Yuba City from Lincoln, said traffic is the same.
Still, the Yuba City CHP office is preparing for another busy travel season in the days leading up to Christmas, said Officer Jodie Beck. As Dec. 25 gets closer, all available officers will be used to deal with the increase in traffic.
In a season that typically results in a higher number of DUIs, Beck said drivers should be cautious in the next few weeks. Last December, the CHP had 73 collisions, 10 of which were DUI-related.
Drivers will have to use additional caution as rain and fog are expected off and on during the week before Christmas, weather forecaster Johnnie Powell said. Snow is also likely in higher elevations.