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Travel decrease expected

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

November 26, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - For the first time since 2002, travel industry experts predict a decline in Thanksgiving travel.  Higher airline tickets prices have 10% fewer people flying, but falling gas prices could encourage more people to make last minute plans to hit the roads.

The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas here in Albany is just a $1.73, and while economic conditions were expected to keep more travelers at home this Thanksgiving, the lower prices may be enough to motivate many to just jump in the car and travel 50 miles or more to find family.

The Graber family was on their way to Orlando to spend Thanksgiving with Mickey Mouse and the family of six were more concerned about the lines at the amusement park than the lines at the airport.

"It seems like it's not that full here today so I assume it will probably be this way in Atlanta," says Barbara Graber.

Aviation officials say ten percent fewer people are flying this holiday.  Albany's flights were just 75 percent full.  Officials say it may be a result of fewer seats and higher prices.

 "Our airfares are up this year we're up about 15 to 20 percent more than we were last year," says Yvette Aehle, Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Director.

If you can get discount tickets like the Graber's did then even if gas prices are cheaper,  "Then you fly," Barbara said.

AAA expects more than 33.2 million Americans to travel by car this weekend, while it sounds like a lot it's a decrease of 400,000 motorists from last year.  Cheaper gas prices are just the icing on the cake this holiday for motorists like Mike Davis who's headed to Atlanta Thursday with his wife and grandchildren.

 "It will make it a lot easier on the pocket book," he says.

He'll be with millions of others on the roads and like officers suggest he'll be watching out for the other drivers and watching his speed.

"Speed is a factor in many accidents and you greatly decrease your chance of having an accident if you don't speed.  Of course wear your seat belt if you do have an accident the chance of not getting injured or surviving the accident is greatly increased if you have your seat belt on," says Captain Robert Jennings of the Dougherty County Police Department.

 Of course as the holiday party season begins, law enforcement reminds you not to drink and drive and if you do drink, designate a driver.  They say there will be plenty of law enforcement patrolling this weekend.  The other big travel day will be Sunday and it could be worse because everyone it returning home at the same time.

Last Thanksgiving there were more than three-thousand traffic crashes in Georgia during the holiday travel period.  As a result more than a thousand people were injured and 27 people were killed.

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