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Record number of travelers expected

    Even with gas prices and hotel rates higher than last year, more than 64.9 million Americans are expected to hit the roadways or the airways during the Christmas and New Years holidays, including 2.1 million Georgians.
    "The Christmas-New Year's holiday is an excellent time to reunite and share the festive traditions that families celebrate and pass along to their children and grandchildren," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president of AAA Auto Club South.
    "Although the cost of travel is up slightly, we do not anticipate that those costs will deter consumers," he said. "On the contrary, it's a 10-day opportunity for family time and enjoyment."
    Nationally, gasoline prices are about 10 cents per gallon higher than last year, according to www.fuelgaugereport.com.
    According to the website, gas prices in Georgia average $2.21 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Meanwhile in Savannah, the closest market to Statesboro monitored, a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.26, up eight cents from last year.
    With so many extra motorists on the roadways, Georgia's Governor's Office of Highway Safety launched "Operation Zero Tolerance" to patrol during the holiday period.
    "Law enforcement officers across the state will be out in force conducting sobriety checkpoints and concentrated patrols this week and next," said GOHS Director Bob Dallas.
    Officials are predicting 13 deaths, 1,001 injuries and 2,212 crashes during the Christmas holiday weekend, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday and continues though Monday night.
    Also, 16 fatalities are projected during the New Year's holiday period, with 1,152 injuries and 2,500 crashes. The New Year's holiday period runs from 6 p.m. Friday, December 29 and ends at midnight, January 1.
    "The Georgia State Patrol and local traffic enforcement officers will not hesitate to arrest impaired drivers and impound their vehicles during this December Operation Zero Tolerance campaign crackdown," Dallas said.

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