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Holiday travel, motorists increase

November 26, 2010

More people are expected to travel this holiday season, and of those travelers, a vast majority will arrive at their destination by car.
About 94 percent of holiday vacationers will be traveling in motor vehicles to their destinations, according to AAA of the Carolinas.
More than 1.1 million motorists in North Carolina are expected to drive at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving holiday, which increased 11 percent from 2009.
"Allow yourself plenty of time for the trip," said N.C. Highway Patrol R.E. Sales, who is based with Troop F in Newton. "The key thing most people need to know is to take the time to get where they need to go."
Sales said the day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year. The increased number of motorists and the stress of holiday travel, Sales said, often distract drivers.
"Limit any kind of outside distractions," he said, adding cell phones, the radio and GPS devices often cause drivers to crash when they aren't paying attention to roadways.
Sales also warned against intoxicated driving and speeding, which are additional causes of motor vehicle crashes.
North Carolina travelers are expected to log 816 miles for a round trip this Thanksgiving travel season from Wednesday to Sunday, according to AAA. With the average gas price in the state at $2.80, the common driver could spend more than $100 alone on fuel for their trip.
AAA of the Carolinas attributed the increasing number of motorists, in part, to increased travel safety measures recently enacted by the Transport Security Administration.
"Groping guards, squished seats and frivolous fees have pushed more and more travelers away from the airways and to the highways this year," said Dave Parsons, AAA of the Carolinas president and CEO.
Many people protested TSA's new measures, calling them invasive and unnecessary because of personal pat-downs and revealing body-image scanners.
When travelers enter a safety checkpoint at an airport, they will be asked to walk through a metal detector or, in some airports, an Advanced Imaging Technology unit (or an AIT).
TSA uses two types of scanning technology, a millimeter wave unit and a backscatter unit, according to the organization's website. The millimeter wave unit bounces electromagnetic waves off a traveler's body to create a 3D image. The backscatter unit projects X-ray beams over the body to create a reflection of the body in a monitor. Both processes take about one minute and allow TSA employees to view the passenger's body for illegal items. According to TSA, each image is deleted after review.
Travelers who decline to pass through the AIT unit will be patted-down by a TSA employee of the same sex.
"In either case where a pat-down is required, you have important options that we want you to be aware of," said TSA administrator John Pistole in a public statement. "You have the option to request that the pat-down be conducted in private, and you have the option to have that pat-down witnessed by a person of your choice."

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