More than 3 million Virginians expected to travel for the holiday season

State police will be ramping up patrols to monitor for speeding and drunk drivers over the holidays.
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 6:34 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More than 3 million Virginians are expected to hit the roads or take to the skies in the next two weeks, which is up 3% compared to last year.

The wave of the COVID-19 Omicron variant that hit last year is one of the biggest reasons holiday travel was down in 2021. Even though travel numbers are rising, those who are driving this season can look forward to lower prices at the pump.

The national average for gas prices is sitting at around $3.17 cents a gallon as of Friday. In Virginia, the average price for a gallon of gas is less than $3.

“Our gas experts are estimating that the average family now has about $180 more in their pocket when you compare what they were paying for gas back in June,” said Morgan Dean, the spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

According to AAA, the reason for lower gas prices is that there’s less driving in the wintertime with fewer daylight hours and more unfavorable weather. However, the number of drivers will pick up this coming week, with 2.8 million people expected to hit the road.

More traffic over the holidays is the reason why Virginia State Police will ramp up patrols as they watch for potentially drunk drivers and for speeding. Virginia was just ranked as the number 6 state for the most aggressive drivers, according to a study from GasBuddy.

“I think if you set in your mind, ‘hey we could see some delays, we could see some slowdowns out there,’ it just sets you off on the right course before leaving,” said Dean.

If you want to avoid the worst of the traffic, AAA recommends staying off the roads Dec. 23 from 4-7 pm and Dece. 24th from noon-6 pm.

For those flying, air travel is up more than 12% from last year.

“We’re looking at this being the third busiest end-of-year holiday here in Virginia that we’ve seen since AAA started tracking those numbers back in 2000,″ Dean stated.

AAA also monitors travel by trains, buses and cruises they say it’s been the slowest to return from the pandemic, but we can expect to see a 26% increase from last year.