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Be prepared when traveling this Christmas, officials say

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Motorists beware, and be prepared.

AAA estimates 94.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles this holiday season. That's an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million people who traveled during last year's holiday and marks the fifth consecutive year travel has increased during the Christmas holiday.

“While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year,” AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney said in a news release. “AAA is projecting more Americans to travel than ever before to gather with friends and family, exchange presents and ring in the New Year.”And, anyone traveling this Christmas should be prepared for any number of conditions, from icy conditions to drowsy driving, officials say.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and other organizations urge travelers to check road and weather conditions before leaving. Officials also suggest travelers prepare by stocking their vehicles with emergency supplies, such as a flashlight, jumper cables and emergency markers.

“We focus a lot on reminding folks to drive sober, buckle up and limit distractions behind the wheel,” Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said in a news release. “All of those things are incredibly important, but making sure you’re riding in a safe vehicle is really step No. 1.”

Added Blackwood: “If you’re traveling for the holidays, be prepared for any situation. Use cargo nets to secure any packages you bring along. If you’re involved in a crash, a loose package can quickly become a dangerous projectile in your vehicle.”

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