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A Record Number Of Southern Californians Are Hitting The Road This Holiday Season

Heading north on the 405 freeway. (Photo by fourbyfourblazer via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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This holiday season, almost 8 million Southern Californians are expected to travel—an all-time record according to a study from the Automobile Club of Southern California. Of those travelers, 6.8 million Southern Californians will probably be hitting the road."Lower gas prices and an improved economy are among the key reasons why we're seeing a record for year-end holiday travel," Automobile Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring told LAist. But having more cars on the road also comes with a price. A study released Tuesday by the National Safety Council estimates that almost 700 Americans could die on the roads over the next two weekends. Spring said he could not comment on the NSC study without having seen their data, but said, "What we've seen in recent years is that the overall vehicle miles has increased, and we've also seen an increase in fatalities."

The NSC estimates around 314 could lose their lives this coming weekend and another 364 could lose their lives on the road during the New Year's Day weekend. Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the council, tells the L.A. Times that additional factors include the increased drinking during the holidays and distracted pedestrians.

Overall, the Automobile Club of Southern California estimates that 12.4 Californians will be traveling, and over 103 million Americans will be traveling—a new record.

With rain expected to fall this weekend in Southern California, here are some tips for driving safely on the road. Spring also recommends that drivers are well-rested before hitting the road, and suggests traveling on Saturday instead of Friday, saying, "It's a hard slog to drive after a full day of work. Driving drowsy is tantamount to driving drunk."